rasdaman newsletter 03/2023

OPS-SAT Wins International SpaceOps Award

OPS-SAT, an experimental ESA nanosat, has received the prestigious International SpaceOps Award for Outstanding Achievement. Among the innovations demonstrated is on-board datacube analytics done with the rasdaman datacube engine, answering queries from ground on the fly in orbit.

OPS-SAT is dedicated to improving mission operations, shortening deployment life cycles, and testing new satellite technology. Coined as "the flying laboratory" funded by ESA GSTP, OPS-SAT is the first open in-orbit testbed for new satellite software and applications. Equipped with an ARM-based on-board computer, this small 3-unit cubesat has enabled the testing of innovative software solutions and many industry-first achievements.

The datacube twist was contributed through the ORBiDANSE (Orbital Big Data Analytics Service) project funded by the German Ministry of Economics. Goal was to build a timeseries datacube on board from the camera data and receive analytics queries from ground for ad-hoc processing on board. "This has two key advantages", explains Peter Baumann, "first, bandwidth is utilized much better due to the reduced size of query responses in comparison to raw data download. Second, it's about the quality of service: you don't get just data, you get answers."

While rasdaman is optimized to scale up to multi-Petabyte deployments, in this case it had to be scaled down to operate on the limited resources of the satellite, with a footprint of a single-core, single-thread processor with 1 GB RAM. A series of experiments was successfully conducted in orbit, thereby paving the way for the Big Data paradigm of "process data close to their source".

As opposed to related approaches like AI4EO where only trained models can be uploaded and operated on board, the rasdaman datacubes allow any query, any time; integration of models into the queries is under way, leading to a superset of the AI4EO capabilities with flexible processing and filtering on Big EO Data.

More information: rasdaman Hall of Fame and ORBiDANSe project