Game-changer camera launched into space

A high resolution camera that will more accurately monitor the Earth’s delicate ecosystem has been launched into space.

The DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (DESIS) has been installed onto the International Space Station (ISS). It will be used to monitor bushfires, natural disasters and environmental changes across the world.

Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll pointed to Victoria’s world-leading position in space technology.

“We know that Victoria is a world-leader in space technology and the German Aerospace Agency’s partnership with La Trobe University cements that position.”

“This high-resolution camera is a real game-changer – it’ll help monitor natural disasters and environmental changes across the globe – some 400 kilometres in outer space.”

Thousands witnessed the camera launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, attached to Elon Musk’s Space-X Falcon 9 rocket.

La Trobe Engineering Senior Lecturer and Entrepreneur in Residence, Dr Peter Moar, said this was a ground-breaking achievement for engineering in Australia.

“La Trobe University is very much at the forefront of space technology,” Dr Moar said.

“The DLR tasked our engineering team to create a number of advanced on-board control systems to manage the critical handling of image data and storage. It’s been an amazing experience to help create such an advanced space qualified instrument. In terms of its intended performance, it’s one of the first of its kind in the world.”

“DESIS will help monitor natural phenomena such as bush fires, floods, ash clouds, storms, rainfall, and drought from some 400 kilometres in outer space. As the instrument passes over its target, a sequence of photos will be captured via sophisticated on-board processing, providing images that until now have been impossible to generate.”

“This technology will help government and emergency services in Australia and world-wide. It will help save lives and minimise damage to property and infrastructure by providing timely images of natural disasters such as fire and floods, as well as providing imagery for environmental monitoring.

The camera has been integrated onto the ISS imaging platform named MUSES (Multi-User System for Earth Sensing). It will transmit data to the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at La Trobe and Melbourne-based company ESS Weathertech, which have established a ground station to receive DLR imagery from their FIREBIRD satellite constellation.

The partnership between La Trobe and DLR is the first of its kind for an Australian university to develop this kind of space technology.

“It highlights the three decades of expertise in La Trobe University’s Engineering Department to design and develop advanced electronic systems for hazardous environments such as space,” Dr Moar said.

“It also cements Australia’s – and Victoria’s – position as world-leading for space research and engineering, reinforced most recently with the establishment of an Australian Space Agency.”

The launch comes as State Government pushes for Victoria to house an Australian Space Agency.

The rocket launch was televised live on Elon Musk’s Space X website.

Media Contact: Claire Bowers – 0437 279 903 / c.bowers@latrobe.edu.au or Dragana Mrkaja – 0447 508 171 / d.mrkaja@latrobe.edu.au

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