Vratis cooperates with ESA under SSA

ESA has published an article about its collaboration with Vratis and Sybilla Technologies.

Polish companies cooperate with ESA under SSA

European Space Agency (ESA) invited Polish companies – Vratis and Sybilla Technologies to work together on a project that will enable detection and tracking of Near-Earth Objects, NEO. The main aim of the undertaking is to identify areas where GPU technology can be used. Project is supported by AMD.

As part of the contract awarded by ESA, Polish companies will perform joint research on how modern  IT tools can help in processing, managing and analyzing large amounts of captured data. This research can be used to accomplish SSA (Space Situational Awareness) program, which will coordinate further actions in case of planetoid’s detection that could endanger life on Earth. SSA will also monitor satellites and disposal of space debris.

Information gained by ESA during previous, preliminary trails shows big potential of graphics processors GPU – said Vicente Navarro, manager in Application Database Systems and Special Projects, SSA. – GPU usage in NEO ensures an excellent computing platform for objects detection in space – added Vicente.

David Cummings, director of Professional Graphics AMD division emphasizes that main aim of AMD’s cooperation with Polish companies Vratis and Sybilla Technologies was to help  scientists in gathering photometric data in time constrained situations. – Thanks to this ESA will be able to effectively manage global warning system in case of dangerous objects approaching our planet – added director Cummings.

Lukasz Miroslaw, CEO at Vratis is convinced that network of modern autonomic telescopes that are operational 24/7 can generate terabytes of data. – Information needs to be processed immediately, since planetoids that are near Earth should be identified and evaluated very quickly – said Lukasz. In his opinion, GPU technologies can help in processing large amounts of data simultaneously. – Our plan is to use the experience gained by our team during work on GPU based tools used to analyze scientific data in the cloud – explains CEO of Vratis.

Visualization of a planetoid in our system

We are about to experience a big tsunami of scientific data, that will be generated by existing or soon to be built telescope networks, e.g. Polish Project Solaris – adds Piotr Sybilski, CEO of Sybilla Technologies. Currently, manual work needed to input and analyze data that comes from optic telescopes almost exceeds astronomic community capabilities.
During upcoming six months experience and expertise collected by the industrial consortium will allow to accurately evaluate possibility of GPU usage in solving potential SSA  computing problems.

About GPU

GPU graphics processors are groups of specialized computing cores, optimized to perform instructions appropriate for graphic applications. Their dynamic development started after 1999 with the growth of gaming market. More and more advanced graphics accelerators architectures were developed over time, which brought significant speed-ups in specified operations, especially after introduction of shaders which divided GPU’s into shading units and enabled processing of data in parallel.

This solution was the key for further development of graphics processors. In the beginning, the amount of shaders were limited to a few in one processor, currently latest GPU cores integrate about thousands of shaders or even more. Increasing capabilities of such processors became potential source of extra computing power, that can be also used in areas other than graphical applications.

ESA Program

Since 2009 ESA runs a program that will enable Europe to independently detect and predict diverse threats from outer space, e.g. space debris, satellites collisions and their intrusion into Earth atmosphere, planetoids or solar storms.

Such accidents can potentially threaten many aspects of everyday life, e.g. communication failures, airplane flight disturbance or invalid satellite navigation system operation.

In view of their diversity, SSA program was divided into 3 areas:

  • Space WEather (SWE),
  • Near-Earth Objects (NEO),
  • Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST).

In February 2014 near Madrid prototype radar tests were started that can detect space debris starting from 10 cm in near-Earth orbits. In November the manufacturer will pass it to ESA. The plan is to finish the second phase of the project,  in which Poland will take active part,  until 2016.

The original article can be found at http://www.esa.int/pol.