Helping Protect Satellites During Solar Anomalies

On February 3, 2022, a geomagnetic storm triggered by a large solar flare disabled 40 of 49 newly launched SpaceX satellites intended for its satellite internet service. The level of damage was unprecedented and may have happened because SpaceX did not address space weather alerts about recent solar flare activity. The flare was relatively moderate, experts said, warning more satellites could be knocked out in the future.

Satellites in Earth orbit represent a critical component of society’s modern infrastructure. Failure of a satellite or a particular subsystem can significantly affect capabilities that civil, defense, and commercial sectors have come to rely upon. Though most satellite owners monitor the health of their systems and keep track of unusual problems their spacecraft experience, many anomalies are left undiagnosed and impossible to predict due to the complexities involved in collecting and processing massive amount of situational data.

To address these concerns, software engineers at Fraunhofer Center Mid-Atlantic (CMA) are working with researchers at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) and BlueEyeSoft, an IT software solutions company based in Greenville, South Carolina which focuses on artificial intelligence and predictive analytics driven solutions for local enterprises as well as public services.

With funding from the U.S. Space Force and the South Carolina Fraunhofer USA Alliance (see below for more information on this program), the 18-month Centralized Satellite Anomaly Prediction (C-SAP) project aims to predict and disseminate space weather events that can negatively affect satellite systems, their behavior, and communications.

By leveraging large amounts of historical and real-time data, artificial intelligence-driven models will help forecast space weather anomalies with the goal of providing near real-time updates to operators on potential anomalies, allowing them to take action to save or minimize the damage to spacecrafts.

The project team’s respective roles include:

BlueEyeSoft: Project management, core competency, AI development 

UofSC: Data analytics, data streaming, AI development, predictive model development, dashboard development 

Fraunhofer USA CMA: Solution architect, AI development, IV&V function. CMA will lead the software/solution architectural design process through analysis of IT requirements, business requirements, operational requirements, performance requirements and create a create a blueprint for the system, provide system validation testing and test reports.  

About the South Carolina Fraunhofer USA Alliance (SCFUSA)

The SCFUSA is collaboration between The South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Fraunhofer USA, and South Carolina’s universities. The Alliance was established in 2019 to promote and provide technical guidance and financial support for applied research that spurs innovation and improves the competitiveness of South Carolina companies and results in a positive economic impact to the state and its workforce.

About Fraunhofer USA Center Mid-Atlantic (CMA)

Located in College Park, Maryland, Fraunhofer USA CMA conducts applied research to support the software-enabled innovations created by our customers in industry, academia, and government. With a depth of experience in artificial intelligence/machine learning, 5Gand NexG networks, and advanced systems and software engineering, the CMA team develops and applies advanced, effective and scalable approaches to software solutions, delivers powerful testing and verification strategies and tools, and uses state-of-the-art measurement and analysis models to support our customers’ needs.