PhD student to intern with European Space Agency

A La Trobe University PhD student has been selected to work on groundbreaking satellite research in a new internship program at the Φ-lab (Phi Lab) of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Brandon Victor will travel to ESRIN, ESA’s Specialised Centre of Excellence for Earth Observation, in Frascati, Italy, in January 2024 for a joint three-month research internship funded by SmartSat.

Brandon has received the exciting opportunity through his work with Australia’s leading space research centre, SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (SmartSat), which has strategic research initiatives in the Kanyini and Φ-sat satellite missions.

The European Space Agency’s Φ-lab is a world-leading research centre with a mission to accelerate the future of Earth Observation through transformational innovations and new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and on-board processing. This research will create the next generation of predictive intelligence to forecast and monitor agricultural and environmental activities and disaster events from space with much greater accuracy.

Brandon recently completed a Computer Science Honours in Deep Learning at La Trobe University and said the internship will be a fantastic opportunity to further his work on ‘Using Satellite Data to Locate and Phenotype Plants from Space Research’.

"This internship with Φ-lab gives me the opportunity for international travel, to meet new people working at the intersection of AI and satellite images and – most importantly – to work on an exciting project with global experts. This will undoubtedly be an excellent experience for me," he said.

Brandon’s research supervisor, Dr Zhen He, Associate Professor, Computer Science and Information Technology at La Trobe University, said:

"International experience and collaboration are invaluable to further develop the skills of Australia’s young scientists. Programs like this enable students like Brandon the chance to learn from some of the world’s greatest aerospace engineers and scientists and forge international connections that will generate new ideas and innovation.”

SmartSat CRC Chief Executive Officer Professor Andy Koronios said the new internship program is a further step in the collaboration between SmartSat and Φ-lab.

" We’re delighted to send these talented students to Φ-lab, which is at the forefront of Earth Observation technologies. This international collaboration is a great testament to the progress being made in Australia’s space industry and a chance to showcase our nation’s expertise," he said.


The SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre brings together over 100 national and international partners who have invested over $190 million, along with $55 million in Federal Government funding under its Cooperative Research Centres Program, in a $245 million research effort over seven years.

Working closely with the Australian Space Agency & Defence, SmartSat is making a strong contribution to the Australian Government’s goal of tripling the size of the space sector to $12 billion and creating up to 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Priority industry sectors for SmartSat include telecommunications, agriculture and natural resources, and defence and national security.

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