The global space industry is facing a recruitment challenge to attract the best talent. While Spacechips' training services and Out-of-this-World-Design educate practicing professionals working in the global space-electronics industry, we work with schools to captivate pupils' imaginations and help our industry plan for the future. I have the privilege of visiting and speaking at many schools around the world, and teachers are always discussing ways to engage children in STEM education.

While it's fun to show videos of rocket launches, the Apollo landings, photographs taken by Martian rovers, and explain how Earth-observation applications impact children (e.g. climate change, food sustainability, and disaster management), the latest initiative is to enable pupils to acquire satellite imagery in real-time to deliver 'live science' and encourage coding skills to extract more intelligence from the data.

The Local Real Time Tool (LoReTT) aims to provide schools access to live data, currently from the Aist-2D satellite.

The Aist-2D satellite was launched in 2016.

Participating schools buy the LoReTT ground station shown below, which receives, demodulates, decodes, and records digital information transmitted by LEO satellites in X-band at speeds ranging from 0.2 to 350 Mbps. Resolutions range from 1 km down to 1 m within a radius of 200 km from anywhere in the world.

LoReTT ground station

An example of a multi-disciplinary project involved using live satellite data to determine the location of seal rookeries during the breeding season. In recent years, the seal population in the White Sea has decreased rapidly due to a decrease in ice-sheet surface area and thickness where harp seals breed and their cubs spend their first weeks. Uncontrolled navigation of ships through these fields in early spring is a major cause of death for pups and the data from satellite imagery was used to identify the location of rookeries and steer ships away from these sensitive breeding grounds.

The principles of radar imagery, satellite Earth-observation, and remote sensing were taught in physics, environmental monitoring, and the impact of human behaviour in ecology, as well as geo-information systems in geography, seal gestation in biology, statistics in mathematics, and coding in computer science to automatically detect rookeries from satellite imagery.

Live satellite imagery is used to identify the location of seal rookeries.

Another inter-disciplinary project involved using live satellite data to assess oil pollution in seas contributing to the teaching of physics, ecology, chemistry, geography, biology, mathematics, computer science, Earth-observation, remote sensing, and health & safety.

The principles of radar imagery were taught in physics, environmental monitoring and the impact of human behaviour in ecology, oil slick lifetime and content in chemistry, geo-information systems in geography, the impact of pollution on marine life in biology, statistics in mathematics, coding, and pattern recognition and artificial intelligence in computer science to detect and correlate spills from satellite imagery.

Live satellite imagery can also be used to assess and correlate oil pollution.

Current multi-disciplinary projects include the detection of land and crop types, mapping and classifying soil erosion, observing the creation of artificial islands, and monitoring the effects of de-forestation, flooding, volcanic eruptions, glacier movement, and fires around the world.

The potential of using live satellite data to engage children in STEM education is endless and if you feel you have something to contribute to this exciting endeavour, please email Olga Gershenzon. The LoReTT initiative is looking to partner with more operators to create a 'virtual classroom' with global coverage.

I'd like to finish this post by wishing all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I have penned many interesting articles on space electronics for 2019 and will be teaching three-day courses in San Jose, California next January, Beijing, China in February, Bremen, Germany next March, Los Angeles, California in April, Colorado Springs, Colorado next May, and Harwell, UK in June. I will also be presenting a 45-minute webinar on ITAR/EAR-Free Space Electronics on Tuesday 8th of January at 9 a.m. GMT and you can register here.

Spacechips has been shortlisted in the top 2000 space companies for the NewSpace People global rankings. I would be very grateful if you could vote for my little company, and also vote for me. Thank you!

Dr. Rajan Bedi is the CEO and founder of Spacechips, which provides high-throughput on-board processing products, design consultancy in space electronics, training, technical-marketing and business-intelligence services.