Adria Space Conference: AI in Space

Exploring space and man’s going into space is unthinkable without an artificial intelligence partnership, as such an endeavour is an extremely demanding job and an expensive project.

Organized by the Adriatic Space Association and co-organized by the Ruđer Bošković Institute, University of Zadar, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb and the University of Algebra, at the Ruđer Bošković Institute, and under the auspices of the Croatian Academy of Engineering, held the conference Artificial Intelligence follows the trends in the development of artificial intelligence in space, where top experts from Croatia and Europe spoke. Also, the sponsors of the conference were the Zagreb Tourist Board, the University of Zadar and Visage Technologies.

The Adriatic aerospace association is an association of individuals from top experts to students, companies, and scientific institutions, directly or indirectly linked to space science and technology. The activities of the A3 Association extend in several directions, and one of the main ones is international cooperation, especially regional. This conference was just aimed at this type of cooperation, to bring together experts, companies and scientific institutions on a topic related to space technology and space development.

Conferences are held every year, and for the past two years the same has not been feasible due to restrictions on holding gatherings caused by the current pandemic. The last one was held in 2019. The purpose of the conference is to see in which parts of advanced space technology can agree on cooperation in this region, especially in Croatia.

This year’s theme of the conference was Artificial Intelligence in Space, a topic of priority for the development of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Commission. Exploring space and man’s going into space is unthinkable without an artificial intelligence partnership, as such an endeavour is an extremely demanding job and an expensive project. Probes that carry robots with the application of artificial intelligence, can largely perform tasks that should be performed by man, but the process is much simpler and more efficient. When one day the launch of humans into space becomes a standard project, artificial intelligence, either in the form of robots or in the form of androids, will be a partner for humans to stay and explore space.

The conference was attended by top experts working on the development of space technology and those who are indirectly involved in such a development.

The first speaker (presentation) was Dr. sc. Riccardo Duca from the European Space Agency, responsible for the technological development of ESA, who spoke about the projects being carried out within the framework of artificial intelligence in ESA. There are approximately 200 current projects related to artificial intelligence, so half of these projects relate to the analysis of data obtained from space probes, space objects, or satellites that send data from space to Earth. This is a huge amount of data that would be difficult to analyze without the existence of artificial intelligence, and thus extract the important ones.

The second half of the project is related to the development of artificial intelligence, which is placed on space probes, which then control space probes, or objects that are sent to space bodies in space, such as the Moon and Mars, and even asteroids. A typical example is the navigation system of the BepiColombo probe – a probe that needs to leave Earth and orbit the planet Mercury. Extremely demanding project, which would be difficult to achieve without artificial intelligence.

The second lecturer was Bojan Jerbić from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, University of Zagreb, who is the holder of the robotic intelligence project and the head of the Centre for Advanced Artificial Intelligence – CRTA. He spoke about the neuronavigation project and the possibilities of robots to independently perform operations on the brain and other parts of the human body. Although the project is medically oriented, it is very important for the future development of the space presence in space. Such a robot can largely replace the need for traditional medical participation in surgeries. On Mars, a single robot could very well be used for future operations, without the need for medical staff.

Next, the third presentation (presentation) was given by Alexander Radovan from the University of Algebra, who had a presentation on the development of artificial intelligence on the Mars rover and the development of artificial intelligence for probes on Mars. In the presentation, the lecturer Radovan gave a historical overview of the development and continued the lecture in the direction of the latest development of the rover; of its possibilities, how it makes decisions, in which direction to explore the surface of Mars and how to avoid awkward situations.

The fourth presentation (presentation) was given by mr. sc. Luka Orsag on behalf of Visage Technologies, which is also a member of the Adriatic aerospace association. He spoke about the visual communication of man and robot based on visual collaboration. By visually exchanging information between a human and a robot, it is possible to interpret information from the context of such communication, from the expression of a human face.

The fifth lecture (presentation) was given by Philipp Berglez, from the Faculty of Geology, Technical University of Graz, who spoke about navigation based on data obtained from satellites. Today’s navigation uses GPS, but for special needs it is required to be highly accurate. In other words, it is necessary to analyse an extremely large amount of data that ordinary GPS, which is used in everyday use, cannot process. For such a large amount of data, precise navigation on the ground requires artificial intelligence. In the future, if self-driving cars are to be planned, they will need just such a high-precision navigation and they will have artificial intelligence with them to interpret this data.

Jorge Ocón, Head of the Department of Autonomy in the Department of Space Robotics at GMV, then spoke as the sixth speaker. The topic of the presentation was the application of artificial intelligence for autonomous robots with examples used on earth. They are planned to be used to explore mines, inaccessible areas, pollution, radioactivity, etc., which can very easily be used to explore “enemy areas” such as the Moon or Mars. Tomislav Stipančić from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, University of Zagreb, as the seventh exhibitor, spoke about the visual interaction of man and the image of a robot that perceives human facial expressions and interprets various emotions such as laughter, anger, joy, sadness, dissatisfaction, etc., showing examples interactive visual communication with the robot. Based on such an expression, the robot, i.e., the embedded software of artificial intelligence, can conclude the state of emotions of its partner.

This is extremely important, because one day in space, humans will surely be partnering with an android and a human-like robot that will be able to read conclusions about emotional state and current mood based on the expression of a human face.

Daniela Jović, as a member of A3, but also an employee of the Slovak company Spacemanic, as the eighth lecturer (presentation), gave a historical overview of the development of space technology and space science in Slovakia from the early 60-70 years, the results achieved and especially the current success of Spacemanic development of satellite technology. She also announced the A3 project, which together with the company Spacemanic is building the first Croatian satellite that should be launched in 2023. The satellite is called CroCube and measures 10 x 10 x 10 cm.

Filip Novoselnik from Protostar Labs spoke as the ninth speaker on the development and programming of artificial intelligence for industrial robots, which can be easily used in space conditions, such as work on space stations or work on space bodies such as Mars and the Moon.

At the end of the presentations (presentation), Ph.D. Jörgen Ahlberg, owner of Visage Technologies from Sweden, spoke about a very important topic, and that is how start-ups, ie business start-ups, can succeed in the market world of competition. It was extremely interesting to see that failure to set up and run such small businesses does not have to be an obstacle to not starting and developing new ideas to start such ones, ultimately with the success of companies like Visage Technologies, where they manage to find projects that companies process. and have success in the world rankings.

The conference concluded with a panel discussion on the role of SMEs in the development and organization of artificial intelligence for space exploration. The discussion was extremely interesting, and the aspects of how small companies would have an advantage in the development of basic ideas of artificial intelligence in contrast to large companies were considered. Small companies have the flexibility that ideas can be launched immediately, while large companies must go through administrative steps in order for such a project to be launched.

As part of the conference, “Night under the Stars” was organized, also at the Ruđer Bošković Institute, which was in the evening, and began with a lecture by Ante Radonić on the James Webb telescope. The lecture attracted many people, especially younger ones, and Ante Radonić presented the historical development of space telescopes in space. The final project resulted in the James Webb Telescope, which surpassed all previous telescopes in technology, but which still provides extremely important data. With its precision, James Webb replaces special areas of the electromagnetic spectrum, which complements previous telescopes.

In the evening, three telescopes of the Zagreb Observatory, the astronomical society “Beskraj” and one telescope of amateur astronomers were set up on the meadow of the Ruđer Bošković Institute, where the citizens of the City of Zagreb could watch the night starry sky. Fortunately, the sky was extremely clear so that very distant objects could be seen nicely.

The event attracted many citizens, but what makes us happy is the presence of many children and young people who had the opportunity not only to see the night sky, but also to find out what these facilities represent. It is people from astronomical societies who are top experts in astronomy and have been able to transfer a large amount of information to the public.

The second day of the conference was organized in the form of a visit to the Center for Advanced Robotic Technology – CRTA, at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, University of Zagreb, with Bojan Jerbić. On the spot you can see what all kinds of robotic technology exist and are developing in this Centre, which left a great impression on the conference participants.

Cooperation agreement signed between the Croatian Association of Technical Culture and Adriatic Aerospace Association

Cooperation agreement between the organizations Croatian Association of Technical Culture (HZTK) and our Adriatic Aerospace Association (A3) was solemnly signed on Thursday, November 26, 2020 at the Ruđer Bošković Institute.

HZTK is the umbrella organization of technical culture in the Republic of Croatia, most deserving for encouraging, developing and maintaining technical culture in primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Croatia, and with this Agreement A3 includes the aerospace part of technical culture in the national education, and we are convinced that this agreement is important for HZTK, A3, but also for the entire Croatian public, especially the education sector.

The agreement was signed on behalf of HZTK, President Ph.D. Damir Tomić and Secretary Zdenka Terek and on behalf of A3, President Ph.D. Slobodan Danko Bosanac.

Special thanks to the director of the Institute, Ph.D. David Matthew Smith for the hospitality and support for future cooperation between the national technical culture and the aerospace sector in Croatia.

The aim of this Agreement is to establish a framework for cooperation between HZTK and A3, in order to develop joint programs, initiatives, projects and activities within the field of education in technical sciences with an emphasis on space technology. HZTK cooperation with A3 is of exceptional importance for both organizations, as a condition for the development of the Croatian space program and inclusion in the international space community. Cooperation is key to creating future partnerships, organizing workshops, lectures, encouraging work on projects among young people through the participation of experts, as well as developing a network with information in the field of space innovation.

PERUN I – First Croatian Satellite

The first A3 project is construction, assembly and launching Croatian CubeSat 2U satellite with camera as the main payload. It was named after Perun, the god of thunder and lightning (the thunderbolt), the supreme deity in the pantheon of Slavic Gods, according to Slavic mythology. We took Perun as the name because the symbol of the God Perun is similar to our logo of the project.

PERUN project will be realized by a large number of young engineers and scientists led by experienced staff at universities and scientific institutions through project reviews and advice. Such engineers and scientists will not only learn the theory of space engineering but will get a welth of hands-on experience. Students who gain knowledge in aerospace often use it in other high technologies – biomedicine, mechanical engineering, software engineering…

The main misson is to take pictures from the Space at height of 550km. Taken images will be used for educational purposes and data will be avaliable for all institutions, universities and schools to learn how to use them. Also from this we want to initiate the first Croatian Space program.

Invest in our crowdfunding

Take part in the project by donating and that together we can reach the Space. Looking down from there on Earth you can say “I did it!”. Any small amount is welcome and shall make that vision come true. On our part we have highly skilled engineers and very enthusiastic young people and on your part means of acquiring technology that we still have to master. We call it science/technology and investemnet sinergy.

The Croatian satellite

To watch Croatia from Space one needs camera, source of energy, remote communication and very importantly control of camera orientation. It looks simple but all these is test of Croatian knowhow in high tech for the Space environment. Yes, and perservirance of young people to learn about what lies ahead in their lives, Space era. This project shall make us the member of the World Space Club.

Sponsors: Algebra d.o.o., Geolux d.o.o., Ruđer Bošković Institute, Digital Talents d.o.o., IJEX GmbH, Scam marine d.o.o., Internal d.o.o., ATIR d.o.o.

For more information visit Perun I webpage.

How can small countries find their role in space activities

This document is the result of the panel discussion on the topic “Small Countries in Space Era”, motivated by the rapidly evolving development in Space exploration, utilization of the benefits from it for the well being of humanity, and future presence of humans out there. Small countries should also find their role in this endeavor but in competition with large conglomerates the question is HOW?

A stable and prosperous society needs to be inventive in science and technology, and to be globally competitive. Two factors that determine success are  highlyeducated members of the community and leadership in new ideas. For a small country, with a reasonably educated population, it is therefore of utmost importance to recognize global trends in the field of science and technology and to focus their development efforts in this direction. Research and development in Space activities offer opportunities to small countries to participate as an active member. This primarily requires defining development strategies in the field of aerospace high technology industries, basic science and development, as well as activities in the field of space medicine, space law and space tourism.

The essential feature of Space programs is that it is interdisciplinary and  that it falls under the responsibilities of several ministries. Therefore, the first step towards commencing a Space program is setting up a Space Agency funded by the ministries of Science, Transport, Economy (where technology is incorporated) and Defense. The National Space Agency should ideally cover all sectors of Space program, with experts in respective fields.  The next step after establishing the Space Agency is to draft and adopt the National Space Strategy that would entail two principal segments

  1. National Space Program (Research, Technology and Applications)
  2. International contacts: ESA, EU, bilateral cooperation

Both of these segments form the basis for accession to the membership of the European Space Agency. The Space Strategy should encompass the long term and short-term development objectives and define the areas of priority.

The path to become a full member of ESA is to first sign the Framework Programme and then to become a co-operating state and thereby join the PECS (Plan for European Cooperating States) programme. The PECS Charter, which lasts for five years, enables the country to develop its space industry with ESA’s support. The next step is then the Associate Membership of ESA and lastly, the Full Membership of ESA. The National Space Agency would represent the country in the ESA council and programme boards. It would also advise the government on levels of commitment in the optional programmes of ESA in line with the space strategy. To support the creation of space start-up companies it is advisable to set up an ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA-BIC).

In parallel, there should be a national space programme to prepare industry and academia for the competitive environment of ESA and EC contracts and to enable fruitful bi-lateral collaborations.

As a member of the European Union, the country also should participate in the down-stream space programme of the EU, which is implemented by the European Commission. Examples are Satellite Navigation (EGNOS and Galileo), Earth Observation (Copernicus), Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and the GOVSATCOM Programme.  To utilize the Public Regulated Service of Galileo Ministries of Interior and Defence should set up a Competent PRS Authority (CPA).

Prof. Dr. Slobodan Danko Bosanac
Adriatic Aerospace Association

The signatories to the document are:
Petr Bares, President, Czech Space Alliance
Prof. Dr. Sc. Slobodan Danko Bosanac, President, Adriatic Aerospace Association
Mag. Dr. Andreas Geisler, Appointed Head of the FFG Aeronautics and Space Agency.
Prof. Dr. Tomaž Rodič, Director, Slovenian Centre for Space Sciences and Technologies
Prof. Dr. Carsten Scharlemann, Head of Deparment, Aerospace Engineering, University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt
Prof. Heinz Stoewer, Founder of Space Associates GmbH
Dr. Sc. Hrvoje Zorc, Adriatic Aerospace Association
Mag.iur. Anja Nakarada Pečujlić, Serbian Case for Space

Adria Space Conference 2019

We are pleased to announce the 1st Adria Space Conference 2019 that is going to be held in Zagreb, Croatia on October 4th 2019.

Adria Space Conference 2019

Regional Cooperation on SpaceTechnology

Adriatic Aerospace Association (A3)
Ruđer Bošković Institute
University of Zadar

Sponsored by:
The Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts of the Republic of Croatia

Chair: Slobodan Bosanac Ph.D., President of the A3

Adriatic Aerospace Conference is the organizer of the first regional meeting devoted to collaboration in space technologies. The goal of the Conference is to stimulate and strengthen the regional cooperation in research and development of advanced technologies, mainly used in space activities. The profile of the Conference is one-day meeting, where all participants will briefly report on their current activities and future programs. This should give push for further common developments in the field of nano-satellite technologies like construction, functions, propulsion, communication, attitude control, and similar. It is intended that the conference acquires annual character as a gathering of participants in space research and development in SE Europe.

More information on web page of the Conference.

Organizing Committee:

S. Bosanac, Ph.D., Adriatic Aerospace Association
M.Ivanda, Ph.D., Ruđer Bošković Institute
I. Jakić, CEO, IJEX GmbH
D. Kočiš, Adriatic Aerospace Association, World Space Week Croatia
I. Ljubić, Ph.D., Ruđer Bošković Institute
G. Verbanec, Ph.D., University of Zagreb, Faculty of Science,
H. Zorc, Ph.D., Adriatic Aerospace Association
S. Petrović,
D. Ramljak, Ph.D., Senior Science and Innovation Expert The World Bank