Author: Eleftherios Kosmas

Deep Learning and Space Weather in GSoC’s 2020 Libre Space Foundation contributions


In May 2020, we announced that Libre Space Foundation would be mentoring two projects for the Google Summer of Code 2020. As the students are about to submit their final work, we would like to share with you an overview of their achievements/progress this summer. One of the GSoC proposals is to create a Python module to assist SatNOGS operators in tackling RF collisions. More details on the progress of this project and an update about it will be given to you on the SatNOGS blog within the next weeks.

Today, however, we will be focusing on the hard work Adithya Venkateswaran has put in as a valuable member of the Polaris project team. Adithya maintains a personal blog walking the readers through his work and the final post on his GSoC contribution was the inspiration for this post.

Polaris: a quick technical overview.

Before delving into Adithya’s work, allow us to provide some background information, helpful context on what Polaris is about.

Polaris is a command-line based, satellite-telemetry analysis tool using machine learning. Space operators usually have to deal with a lot of telemetry parameters from their satellites, and it is often hard to understand how they impact each other on a global picture. Polaris makes use of the XGBoost algorithm for eXtreme gradient boosting to predict every telemetry in the satellite and provide their inter-importances (like a dependency without the causality). The importance of links between telemetry parameters is represented as a graph in a web-based 3D interface. 3d-force-graph is the graph component used for the output.

Polaris output of CubeBel-1

Practically Polaris consists of four distinct parts:

  1. polaris fetch: It fetches data from various sources, such as telemetry from the SatNOGS Network and Space Weather from SWPC (NOAA).
  2. polaris learn: A machine learning (XGBoost) based module that analyses the relationship of all the data “fetched” and provides a JSON graph file as an output.
  3. polaris viz: A 3d graph-based visualisation module, which offers an intuitive graph representation of data.
  4. polaris anomaly (WIP): An autoencoder-based tool (betsi) that detects anomalies in telemetry data and warns satellite operators. In other words, deep learning for space operations.
Polaris architecture

Adithya worked on several parts of the project and added useful functionality. His main contributions to Polaris were two new modules “Vinvelivaanilai” & “Betsi”.

Vinvelivaanilai

Vinvelivaanilai is the word for space weather in Tamil. Vinvelivaanilai is a Python module which uses File Transfer Protocol services to fetch space weather data from SWPC/NOAA’s servers and stores it locally or in InfluxDB-based docker-containers.

It also contains functions to parse TLEs and OMMs (any GP data) and propagate the orbit to find the position and velocity of the satellite at any time.
The red coloured nodes in the following graph are derived from Vinvelivaanilai.

Red coloured nodes derived from Vinvelivaanilai


Betsi

Betsi is shorthand for “Behaviour Extraction for Time-Series Investigation”. It makes use of deep-learning techniques to detect anomalies in the telemetry data. The spectrum of an anomaly is broad and it ranges from a simple orientation change to a mega-scale explosion. An explosion capable enough to wipe out all of humanity according to Adithya’s post. But of course, we wouldn’t like the latter to occur.

As the Betsi development team states

If it happened, betsi detected it*.

* You can always change the sensitivity though 😛

In the following graph, the black dotted lines are the breakpoints. Keep in mind though, that at the moment, we are working on finding a better way to represent 200 parameters used for anomaly detection. If you believe you can contribute to the project with ideas, your expertise and knowledge, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team by joining their matrix/element chatroom

anomaly detection graph

Student Takeaways

As Adithya stated in his blog post, participation in the Polaris project was a more diverse learning experience than what he had expected initially. To this, we believe, that the catalytic factor was the Libre Space community and its continuous effort to share knowledge. Adithya has been an invaluable and active member of this community from the very start. And we could not be more thrilled to see him contribute and participate with such a zest and devotion.

  • Adithya learned to read, comprehend in-depth and implement research papers contributing to Betsi’s creation.
  • He learned to interface to FTP over Python and learned to create a stable API to fetch space weather data.
  • Tested several DBMS to find the best pick for space weather data which will also be future proof.
  • He familiarised himself with the Polaris API in-depth to be able to add weather data. Enabling, thus, Polaris to provide better results.
  • Learned to work on CSS and JavaScript to create a blog documenting his work and so inspiring us to write this post.
  • While also contributing to improving the web graph user experience.
  • Currently, Adithya is working on analysing a way to skip the normalisation steps (which converts data to SI units), which will allow Libre Space Foundation to support all satellites whose telemetry can be decoded. At the same time, he is collaborating closely with a satellite team to perform further tests.
  • As an active member of our community, Adithya has helped greatly guiding new users interested in Polaris to set it up.

Future work

In the future, Adithya and the rest of the Polaris team will be working on integrating Betsi into Polaris and create a way to represent Betsi’s data in a meaningful and useful manner. They will also focus on improving the experience of the visualisation module and adding more input from SatNOGS in Polaris as soon as all the afore-mentioned changes and improvements are implemented.

Community takeaways

Adithya’s final GSoC blog post carries a very moving message for his mentors.

All of this was possible because of your support. You not only helped me in my work but also helped me grow as an individual. I learnt so much more than just programming. I learnt to respect and enjoy the open-source culture, make my own decisions, put my point across and defend it. I learnt to be self-sufficient but also approach you when I need it (you were always there to guide me). If any of you are reading this, please know that you have helped me realize the potential I carry in me and I will forever be indebted to you for that!

We wholeheartedly believe that both on an individual and on a community level, our contributors deeply desire to empower their fellow community members and work hard towards achieving that. They do so with as much devotion as we have for the open-source technologies and methodologies. It is the inspiring combination of our community (and its members) and the Open methodologies we follow that empower everyone to continuously dream, contribute and innovate. We truly believe Adithya is one such valuable member of our community, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for him and see him thrive.

Call for students: join us building open space technologies through Google Summer of Code 2020

Google announced today that Libre Space Foundation is among the mentoring organizations of Google’s Summer of Code 2020. This selection provides opportunities for students that would like to work full-time on open space technologies during their summer break and start participating in the Libre Space community.

Google Summer of Code is an annual program providing university students the chance to work on open -source projects during their summer break while earning a stipend!

If you are interested in working with open-source space technologies this summer, don’t hesitate to study the student guide thoroughly, and check our detailed instructions, with suggested ideas, or introduce your ideas for consideration.

Feel free to check the following video for a quick review of Google Summer of Code.

Libre Space Foundation partners with Harvard’s Wolbach Library to launch Space Library funded by Sloan Foundation

The Wolbach Library at the Center for Astrophysics and the Libre Space Foundation recently received funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to create new infrastructure to support small satellite missions and enable public engagement with space technology.

These efforts are part of the “Space Library,” a new multicomponent initiative at Wolbach that is working to fuel new research by improving access to scientific research artifacts and supporting their reuse. The funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will support two specific Space Library projects: MetaSat and the Library Space Technology Network (LSTN).

The Space Library’s first project, MetaSat, will develop and prototype an open metadata schema. This schema will provide both a comprehensive structure and uniform standards for describing research objects produced by small satellite missions so they can be more easily found and used by others. Example schema components include standard ways to document dates, locations, people, datasets, and software.

This schema will subsequently be piloted on SatNOGS, the Libre Space Foundation’s open source network of satellite ground stations (on-ground technology that communicates with satellites). Wolbach Library also plans to install five ground stations at public libraries around the world. These five libraries will be the first participants in LSTN, a public-facing program that will provide opportunities for new communities to engage with and support real space missions. LSTN participants will give feedback on the MetaSat schema and the newly installed ground stations to ensure that even satellite novices are able to use these tools. If the pilot is successful, Wolbach hopes to expand LSTN and develop educational materials to support participating communities.

“I’m elated about this opportunity. We have a unique chance here to partner with people developing bleeding edge technologies while addressing questions that I think are foundationally important to the future of scientific research,” said Daina Bouquin, Head Librarian and PI of the Space Library. “Questions like, how do we link hardware, software, and data so people can fully share their knowledge and experience? Can we develop tools for scientists that are approachable to the public? These questions aren’t specific to space-based science, and I think librarians are strategically situated to help, so I’m thrilled to move forward.”

Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian 
The Center for Astrophysics is a research institute which carries out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, earth and space sciences, and science education. The CfA’s mission is to advance our knowledge and understanding of the universe through research and education in astronomy and astrophysics. The CfA was founded in 1973 as a joint venture between the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University. The CfA’s main facility is located in Cambridge Massachusetts, with several other facilities around the globe.

John G. Wolbach Library
The John G. Wolbach Library combines the collections of the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), forming one of the world’s preeminent astronomical collections.

Libre Space Foundation

Libre Space is a non-profit organization and its mission is to promote, advance, and develop libre (free and open source) technologies and knowledge for space exploration. To do so the Libre Space Foundation designs, develops, and delivers space related projects ranging from ground station equipment to global monitoring networks and satellite missions. The Libre Space Foundation is based in Athens, Greece, collaborating with organizations and individuals globally.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation 
Founded in 1934 by industrialist Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the Foundation is a not-for-profit grantmaking institution that supports high quality, impartial scientific research; fosters a robust, diverse scientific workforce; strengthens public understanding and engagement with science; and promotes the health of the institutions of scientific endeavor.

In order to facilitate this open metadata project the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has provided Wolbach Library at the Center for Astrophysics and the Libre Space Foundation a grant of USD $390,634.00 with Daina Bouquin serving as project PI.

Libre Space Foundation selected as a mentor organization for Google Summer of Code

We are excited to share the news that Libre Space Foundation is selected as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code (aka GSoC) 2019! As a result of this selection Libre Space has summer opportunities for university students who are interested in working on open-source space technologies.

Google Summer of Code is an annual program providing university students the chance to work on open -source projects during their summer break while earning a stipend!

So now, when all the papers were done with essay helper, which you can find atHome Page to complete all your study tasks, you can go on with the summer plans!

If you are interested on working with open-source space technologies this summer don’t hesitate to thoroughly study the student guide, and check our detailed instructions, with suggested ideas, or introduce your own ideas for consideration.

Open Source Cubesat Workshop ’17

A few days ago Libre Space Foundation, the Librecube Initiative and European Space Agency’s European Space Operation Center Cybernetics Team came together and co-organized Open Source Cubesat Workshop ’17 (or OSCW17 for short) at the European Space Operations Center Headquarters in Germany.

For two days, the European Space Operation Center opened its doors to our community building open-source space technologies. We had the chance to watch, participate and get inspired by talks, pitches, and workshops that took place during OSCW.

We want to thank our hosts, the awesome people of ESOC, its director that keynoted the event, the Cybernetics team, and numerous ESA volunteers that took time off their schedules to join us.  would also like to thank the OSCW17 sponsors that placed their trust on open-source. And most importantly we must thank the awesome international community of researchers, industry representatives and individuals that joined us working together and collaborating on open-source space technologies.

The ESOC media team made all video recordings available to share. We aren’t going single out a few talks, pitches or workshops, Feel free watch all the talks (abstracts and slides linked in the video descriptions) in the following YouTube playlist, and don’t hesitate to join our continuous work on open-source space technologies in our community discussion forum and chat room.

Successful deployment of UPSat, the first open source satellite

UPSat, the first open source hardware and software satellite, was released in orbit by NanoRacks deployer from the International Space Station at 08:24 UTC 2017-05-18. After 30 minutes, UPSat subsystems commenced normal operations in orbit. The SatNOGS open ground station network started receiving telemetry signals from UPSat in several ground-stations deployed globally shortly after its deployment. All subsystems are reporting nominal operations and the UPSat team is proceeding​ with LEOP phase in preparation for the science phase of the mission.

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The moment of UPSat deployment, as seen from the International Space Station. UPSat can be seen on the left picture as the black cube near the center of the picture.
The moment of UPSat deployment, as seen from the International Space Station. UPSat can be seen on the left picture as the black cube near the center of the picture.

This successful deployment of UPSat in orbit, marks an important milestone for open source software and hardware in space, making space technologies more accessible and open for all.

UPSat CW telemetry beacon as captured by JA0CAW (Japan)
UPSat CW telemetry beacon as captured by JA0CAW (Japan)

More info about UPSat and its current status can be found in https://upsat.gr and on latest observations by SatNOGS Network https://network.satnogs.org

Libre Space Foundation has a new home – libre.space

A few days ago Libre Space Foundation got access to the “libre.space” domain due to a generous contribution of the original owner of the domain and member of the SatNOGS community Matt Carberry.

We are looking forward to use this domain not only for Libre Space Foundation initiatives, such us SatNOGS and UPSat, but want to also provide a platform to share knowledge, discuss and co-operate on any open source hardware & software related to space.

For those reasons, we decided on expanding the SatNOGS community forum based originally at community.satnogs.org to community.libre.space. As an early example, Gpredict community (headed by A.Csete) has started utilizing our forum for their coordination needs and aims on utilizing the transmitter data provided by the SatNOGS DB

We aim for more open source collaboration in space in the future, don’t hesitate to join us.

Launch services for CANSAT Greece 2017

On April 19th 2017 Libre Space Foundation launched 5 High Power Rockets for 2017 CANSAT Greece student contest.

The weeks prior the contest day, Libre Space Foundation electronics lab and workshop where open for the student teams who needed equipment not readily available in their school.

Aiming to provide a scaled down satellite delivery and launch experience for students, Libre Space Foundation orchestrated payload certification, delivery as well as a detailed launch operation scenario for the rocket launches.

Students experienced the technical challenges regarding satellite certification, the silent moment during the countdown for lift off, the thrill of watching their payload soar into the sky and the excitment following parachute deployment, a sign that their mission is one step closer to success.

The first open source hardware satellite is delivered

The UPSat team of engineers is proud to announce the delivery of the first completely open source software and hardware satellite!

A major step towards UPSat’s launch has being completed. Its successful delivery to Innovative Solutions In Space (ISISpace) took place on August 18th in Delft, Netherlands. UPSat is the first complete delivery to ISISpace as part of the QB50 project. Engineers from the University of Patras and Libre Space Foundation, the makers of UPSat, in cooperation with Von Karman Institute and ISISpace engineers have successfully concluded all checkout tests anddelivery procedures, to enable UPSat’s integration to the NanoRacks launch system.

UPSat will be delivered to Orbital ATK, and then launched to the International Space Station via a Cygnus automated cargo spacecraft scheduled for 30th of December 2016. After successful docking to ISS, UPSat will be launch by the NanoRacks deployment pod aboard ISS.

This delivery marks a major milestone towards the realization of Libre Space Foundation vision foran open source ecosystem in space, while also being the first satellite designed and manufactured in Greece.

SatNOGS core team creates Libre Space Foundation after winning the Hackaday Prize

One month ago in Berlin Hackaday announced SatNOGS as the Grand prize winner of the Hackaday Prize 2014.

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We are excited to see SatNOGS, the open source hardware and free software satellite ground station network, winning the recognition of the Hackaday Prize judges, the Hackaday staff and last but not least it’s awesome community. We believe that the Hackaday Prize contest is a great showcase of open source hardware and software projects.

The core development team of SatNOGS decided to use the monetary prize won in the Hackaday Prize to fund the establishement of the. Libre Space Foundation, in order to support, develop and advance open source technologies in space. Our vision is not only create an open source groundstation network but an ecosystem of open source technologies in both software and hardware in space and cooperate with other opensource communities to make it so.

Groundstations are just the beginning.