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IBM has announced two new open source projects — Space Situational Awareness and Kubesat — to help “democratize access” to space technology and solve the ever increasing “space junk” problem.

These two containerized solutions are built with cloud-native principles and run on Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Cloud.

The Space Situational Awareness (SSA) project, developed by the IBM Space Tech Team, determines where ASOs are (orbit determination) and where they will be in the future (orbit prediction). Dr. Moriba Jah at the University of Texas at Austin provided the team with general mentoring in space situational awareness.

With SSA, IBM aims to improve orbit prediction using machine learning methods, not to predict orbits but to create models that learn when physical models incorrectly predict an ASO’s future location.

KubeSat, on the other hand, is a cognitive autonomous framework designed for swarms of cube satellites. It allows for the simulation and optimization of multi-satellite communications.

The project simulates accurate orbital mechanics for each object via Orekit and uses these calculations to place restrictions on communications between satellites, groundstation, and ground sensors.

Open sourcing KubeSat Cognitive Autonomous Framework democratizes the satellite swarm industry. It also “allows for smaller operators to take advantage of space tech”, particularly in the satellite swarm industry, that was previously out of reach.

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