Space-based active orbital surveillance platform Digantara has launched what it claims is the world’s first commercial, space-based space weather monitoring system.
The ROBust Integrating proton fluence meter (ROBI) was launched into low Earth orbit (LEO) on June 30 as part of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s PSLV-C53 mission.
According to Digantara, the system is the smallest digital space weather instrument in existence and one of the first commercial payloads to utilize the PSLV’s Orbital Experimental Platform (POEM), which is the stabilized fourth stage of the PSLV rocket that can be used by commercial spacecraft operators to demonstrate their capabilities.
Digantara has established communication with ROBI since its launch and has been receiving data sets. This will enable Digantara to track and evade space weather events. Once in LEO, ROBI will capture proprietary, near-real-time space weather information for its Space Mission Assurance Platform (Space – MAP), which helps stakeholders avoid collisions, from mission conception to end-of-life deorbiting.
Anirudh Sharma, CEO and co-founder of Digantara, said, “With a growing number of satellites and space debris currently orbiting Earth, there is a need for heightened monitoring to ensure safer space activities. Just as air traffic service (ATS) is essential to the aviation sector, we seek to leverage Space – MAP’s capabilities to make Digantara essential to space traffic management, monitoring and tracking debris to prevent potential collisions. Our latest launch with ROBI will enable us to expand these capabilities to tracking weather in low Earth orbit, with truly diverse applications.”
ROBI’s increased number of datapoints means Digantara can model and predict the near-Earth radiation environment with high fidelity and confidence. This data will be critical for various applications including power, aviation, satellites, launch vehicles, navigation and radio communications, in preparation for space weather events.
Tanveer Ahmed, chief technology officer of Digantara, said, “In the new space economy, it is imperative we have the capability to anticipate and monitor such events. ROBI’s extremely small footprint (less than 1cm in size) with power consumption of less than 20mW and the simplicity of integration make it ideal to place in any satellite that goes to space, irrespective of size, shape or application. This will enable Digantara to increase the amount of empirical space weather data that will be available in quasi-real time.”