Led by Professor Alan Duffy, this research program focuses on the ways that spaceborne observations and timing data can support activities on Earth. The program is split into four research streams.

Program themes

Remote sensing

By applying the latest artificial intelligence techniques — including super-resolution neural networks and both supervised and semi-supervised machine learning — new insights can be gained from combining traditional high-resolution Earth Observation images with the latest CubeSat and NanoSat constellation outputs. These insights are then further extended through data fusion with remote sensing measurements, including synthetic aperture radar. 

Leveraging both astrophysics and computer vision expertise is particularly useful for supporting the resources sector across their mining lifecycle, from early exploration to ongoing monitoring and ultimately environmental compliance.

An active volcano from Kamchatka in Russia, as monitored by the joint United State Geological Survey/NASA Landsat program of orbit satellites. The use for space-borne data can range from monitoring missions, agricultural assistance, weather and more, all of which are improved by new AI techniques that fuse multi-wavelength satellite and synthetic-aperture radar datasets with ground or drone-based evaluations.

Extraterrestrial resource planning

Harnessing the knowledge of our world-leading metallurgy, physical chemistry and high temperature fluid mechanics research groups, we’re exploring new pathways in off-world resource processing that can unlock the economic potential of accessing oxide and mineral assets of the Moon and Mars. 

The inherent uncertainties of operating at such frontiers of science are reduced by our team’s combination of experienced industry-scale extraction techniques, advanced metallurgical modelling and precision measurements utilising bespoke solar furnace facilities operating to 1800K at near Lunar-vacuum conditions. In this research stream we explore excavation within the lower gravity environments of the Moon and Mars in a holistic fashion to ensure an autonomous system is optimised across the value chain.

Designed for space

The hostile space environment demands innovations in ceramics, metals, polymers and hybrid materials that can both withstand the harsh conditions and offer mission properties (such as electrical conductivity) with additional features (such as self-healing) by mimicking nature. These significant challenges are enhanced for increasingly long-duration deployment, especially when access for servicing or repairs are limited or non-existent. 

Combining our expertise in product design engineering, metallurgy, polymer science and nanomaterials, this research stream takes a holistic approach that incorporates circular design engineering principles to ensure ease of reusability within the necessary closed-loop economy of space.

Our researchers developed these functional, porous carbon materials that are extremely light, highly conductive (for energy storage applications) and have super adsorption properties.

Microgravity experimentation

Microgravity offers a unique research and development environment but also poses unique challenges to experimental design, such as: 

  • fluid handling without gravity

  • demanding fabrication constraints, including NASA-rated components

  • interruptible autonomous control software design

  • non-trivial signal processing handling. 

Leveraging knowledge and techniques gained through three consecutive years of bespoke designed and constructed experiments on the International Space Station, this research stream offers end-to-end expertise for the design, development and data transport of a range of biological and material science missions in microgravity.

We operate Australia’s only student-designed mission to the International Space Station. In its third year, high school students from Haileybury and their mentors from the Swinburne Honours program developed a human health project to explore the impact of microgravity on dental decay during a month-long space mission.

Contact the Data Science Research Institute

If your organisation would like to collaborate with us to solve a complex problem, or you simply want to contact our team, get in touch by calling +61 3 9214 8180 or emailing dsi@swinburne.edu.au.

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