New research for international space station at Western Sydney University

Western Sydney University has announced research into new camera technology to the International Space Station for a research and development project investigating recently discovered atmospheric phenomena.

 The International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems at Western Sydney University, in partnership with the United States Air Force Academy, has developed what they describe as a “world-first” space imaging technology to be installed on the International Space Station to capture Transient Luminous Events (TLEs).

Lead researcher at the Centre, associate professor Gregory Cohen said these phenomena impacts the Earth’s atmosphere and has potential to disrupt critical global communications systems and high-altitude aircraft.

“Our knowledge of their behaviour is currently limited and neuromorphic cameras offer an exciting new possibility,” he said.

“Drawing inspiration from biology, our cameras operate more like a human eye than a conventional camera, are extremely fast and data-efficient, making them perfect for use in space.

“TLEs happen above large thunderstorms and appear like lightening that travels upward from the clouds into the atmosphere, instead of the usual lightening that travels down toward the ground.”

The hardware is being assembled and tested in parallel at the university’s Werrington campus and at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Jobs, investment, tourism and Western Sydney minister Stuart Ayres said the university’s application of neuromorphic engineering had put the university on the global map.

“It is an exemplar for research and development that is innovative, collaborative and solutions-orientated,” he said.

“These kinds of projects are integral for super-charging Western Sydney as a high-skill jobs hub across aerospace and defence.”

Western Sydney University Professor Deborah Sweeney saw the project as an exciting example of the applied R&D partnerships being driven at Western Sydney University.

“The project with the International Space Station is just one of many applications of neuromorphic systems – the University is working with government, big-tech partners and local businesses to use this platform to solve real-world challenges and create new industry,” she said.  

Data collected will be beamed from the International Space Station to Western Sydney University for research and analysis.

The technology is expected to be launched in early 2021.