SmartSat is integrating the capabilities from the priority areas set in SmartSat’s Technology Roadmap across three primary research program areas as below.

The ever-increasing number of satellites being launched into space will pose significant challenges in tracing satellites, avoiding collisions in an increasingly crowded space and integrating different technologies and systems.  As satellite technology becomes physically smaller and are deployed in constellations, increased opportunities exist for significant processing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to be out on-board satellites so that some advanced analytics are carried out on-board satellites to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of data gathering and analysis. See projects in Advanced Satellite Systems, Sensors and Intelligence projects below:
Topics include:
  • MBSE & Digital twins of small satellite systems
  • Autonomous, cooperative satellite formations
  • Artificial Immune Systems in satellite swarms
  • Trusted Autonomous Formations
  • Self-healing satellite systems
  • Agile & resilient satellites
  • Satellite system & data security
  • Advanced pointing & maneuvering
  • On-board machine learning modules
  • Advanced adaptable payloads
  • HgCdTelR Optoelectronic sensors
  • Quantum sensors

Precision Timing for Space Based Applications – Utilisation Study

Advanced Satellite Systems, Sensors and Intelligence

Precision timing is a key capability underpinning the operational efficiency of society’s most critical infrastructure and is making new applications possible. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) satellites carrying atomic clocks have contributed to delivering a global timing capability with high levels of accuracy and stability. The increasing demand for GNSS independent timing solutions, as well as the potential for optical clocks offering higher levels of timing accuracy and stability demands a study to address the potential applications and technologies required for success in these areas.

This project will investigate what new opportunities and resilience a compact, high accuracy clock for use on small satellites would enable for a broad range of precision timing applications.


Project Leader:
Dr Eldar Rubinov, FrontierSI


LEO Constellation Resilience Technologies – Horizon Scan

Advanced Satellite Systems, Sensors and Intelligence

Extensive research in Geostationary orbit (GEO) failure modes optimise resilience of single satellite systems. Resilience measures of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations failure modes and their optimisations are less well understood.

This project concept will deliver a technology horizon scan for resilient, efficient and effective management of constellations of LEO satellites as well as a suggested roadmap for areas of focus for the SmartSat CRC.


Project Leader:
Kevin Robinson, Shoal Group


Human-Autonomy Teaming for Intelligent Distributed Satellite Operations

Advanced Satellite Systems, Sensors and Intelligence

To truly exploit the advantages of Distributed Satellite System (DSS) mission architectures, an evolution is required from the inflexible pre-planned approaches of traditional space operations to systems that are suited to reactive and resilient mission architectures. At its core, this requires the design and development of novel intelligent Mission Planning Systems (iMPS) that facilitate autonomous Goal-based Operations (GBO). From a technical standpoint, iMPS must facilitate the autonomous cooperation of DSS to optimally global systems goals within an uncertain, dynamic mission environment. From the human perspective, GBO marks a paradigm shift from a command sequence role to one of a supervisory nature, where system autonomy must be monitored and managed in near-real time.

This research explores the concept of supervisory control through the design and development of an human centric iMPS for autonomous GBO. This system will enable an operator to express their intentions in the form of system goals, project and visualize the effect of these intentions and provide intelligent mechanisms to curb autonomous system behaviour. System design and development will follow a Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) approach and verified through case studies that include bushfire detection and maritime surveillance while considering key dynamic mission aspects such as the availability and throughput of communication (e.g., inter-satellite laser links) systems.


Project Leader:
Professor Roberto Sabatini, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)

PhD Student:
Sam Hilton, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)


Development of Taxonomy for Space System Resilience

Advanced Satellite Systems, Sensors and Intelligence

The project proposed is to explore the following:

  • Mapping a research agenda to strengthen resilience and redundancy of satellite-based communications
  • Developing a Taxonomy for Space System Resilience, understanding each of following areas and the cost and performance trade-off (Disaggregation, Distribution, Diversification, Deception, Protection, Proliferation)
  • Articulating what are particular vulnerabilities related to satellites

The aim of this is to provide a literature review and mapping of the issues presented above so as to be able to scope a research agenda in satellite cyber security so as to help meet SmartSat priority research areas.

This mapping will be presented as a White paper and will develop a technical framework that can be used to focus SmartSat outputs in Cybersecurity and Resilience Research and develop a research agenda for future studies.


Project Leader:
Professor Jill Slay, University of South Australia


Compact Clock for Small Satellite Applications

Advanced Satellite Systems, Sensors and Intelligence

Precision timing is of vital importance to our modern society. Its most high-profile application is seen in daily use by most of the world’s population though Global Navigation Satellite Systems (e.g. GPS, Galileo), which generates trillions of dollars each year in economic benefits around the globe.

Other applications for precision timing are emerging within satellite constellations where highly accurate satellite position and timing information may be required. Such information is crucial for: intelligent space systems that aim to produce high-resolution monitoring of Earth by combining data from multiple low-resolution sensors, or next-generation GNSS and satellite communication constellations which are more immune to spoofing, offer higher accuracy, and could lead to a sovereign capability for Australia.

This project aims to demonstrate a next generation timing reference for spaced-based applications. The project will focus on design optimisation for small satellites (typically about 1m3, 100-200kg) as well as initiating an understanding of the trade-space between performance and SWaP for satellite clock designs.


Project Leader:
Professor Andre Luiten & Dr Chris Perrella, The University of Adelaide


Autonomous vision-based space objects detection and tracking in orbit

Advanced Satellite Systems, Sensors and Intelligence

It has become a concern in recent years that the low Earth orbits are turning into a congested and contaminated environment with the proliferation of orbital debris. So far, approximately 34,000 objects larger than 10 cm in diameter lie in this region, about 900,000 pieces of debris 1-10 cm, and the number of objects smaller than 1 cm is estimated to be up to 128 million. With the development and commercialisation of small satellites, the small satellite market is expected to reach $15,686.3 million by 2026. Any impact or collision of space debris with the operational satellites can jeopardise or even end their life, yield significant loss to the space economy, and trigger the so-called Kessler Syndrome which refers to the possibility that collisions will create more debris collisions.

The University of Sydney are developing space-based optical sensors, including telescopes, hyperspectral imager and wide field of view star tracker under the ARC training Centre for CubeSats, UAVs and the Applications (CUAVA). These sensors are initially developed for other purposes like Earth observation, astronomy and attitude and orbit determination. This project however will look at the feasibility of applying these sensors for space objects detection and tracking in orbit.


Project Leader:
Professor Xiaofeng Wu, The University of Sydney