Australia’s leading space research centre, the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (SmartSat CRC), has signed a letter of intent with the European Space Agency’s Φ-lab to collaborate on Earth observation (EO) research.

The new agreement with the world-leading Φ-lab research centre – which has a focus on accelerating the future of EO through transformational innovations and new technologies – will build upon the SmartSat CRC’s existing relationship with the centre.

Φ-lab recently supported cosine to develop the HyperScout imager payload which is currently being integrated into the South Australian Kanyini satellite mission.

SmartSat CEO, Professor Andy Koronios, said SmartSat are delighted to embark on this new chapter of the partnership with Φ-lab.

“Our relationship with Φ-lab has been growing stronger over the past few years through our shared strategic research initiatives in the Kanyini and Φ-sat satellite missions,” said Professor Koronios.

“Φ-lab is at the forefront of the Earth observation technologies, and we are very proud to collaborate with them further to showcase Australian expertise on an international level.

“This is a testament to the progress we’ve made in our national space industry.”

Simonetta Cheli, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said the letter of intent is a major opportunity to harness the complementary expertise of each partner.

“With ESA Φ-lab as the lead on our side in conjunction with SmartSat’s broad-based consortium, the collaboration will undoubtedly yield significant results in the areas of onboard AI and edge computing in space.”

As part of the agreement, SmartSat and Φ-lab plan to establish an exchange program for research personnel and PhD students to undertake internships at Φ-lab. The program will commence in early 2024 for PhD students specialising in Onboard AI and Synthetic Aperture Radars.

“The exchange program will also be an excellent chance for European and Australian researchers to optimise knowledge sharing in this field, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their endeavours,” said Ms Cheli.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, explained the agreement will build on an already strong relationship.

“Australia and the European Space Agency have been strong partners in space for decades,” said Mr Palermo.

“This agreement will help bring together bright minds in Australia and Europe to develop space solutions integrating AI technologies and research.”