An Australian startup creates a space camera with two heads

An Australian startup creates a space camera with two heads

For space-based space surveillance, an Australian startup called Infinity Avionics is creating a dual-headed camera system.

The Australian government, internal research funds, and the Australian research consortium SmartSat CRC have contributed about one million Australian dollars ($660,00) to the development of autonomous space object detection technology by Canberra-based Infinity Avionics, University of New South Wales Canberra Space, and Australian startup Nominal Systems.

“We’re trying to detect pieces of debris which are too small for radars to pick up,” Igor Dimitrijevic, Infinity Avionics founder and CEO, told SpaceNews. “We can also observe other spacecraft that may be out of control or where more information is needed due to an anomaly.”

A wide-field of view event sensor built into the camera system detects changes in light but does not capture pictures.

“It has a very high dynamic range compared to a normal image sensor,” Dimitrijevic said. “We can see very faint changes or very faint events.”

Hint and Cue

The coaligned narrow field of view camera is tasked with gathering images when the event camera notices any changes or movement.

“This allows us to detect events or movements that you would miss with a normal camera,” Dimitrijevic said. “And if you have a normal camera, you have to constantly take frames which generates enormous amounts of data, which you can never downlink. With this dual-head camera system, we are able to identify or detect events and capture them by generating a small amount of data that’s easy to manage in terms of downlink and processing.”

Infinity Avionics is simulating the dual-headed camera system’s concept of operation and validating requirements with the aid of digital twinning technology from Canberra-based Nominal Systems.

“We already supply cameras and sensors for comparable space-based space surveillance applications,” Infinity Avionics’ founder and managing director, Damith Abeywardana, stated. “This is a better camera automation and intelligence system.”

UNSW Spinoff

Founded in 2020, Infinity Avionics is a spinoff of the University of New South Wales in Canberra. The startup offers engineering consulting services both directly and through international partners, in addition to producing optical sensors and computer processors.

Dimitrijevic led the University’s space group as the lead electronics engineer before helping to found the startup.

International organizations and the Australian Space Command are among the potential customers for the dual-headed camera system.