Artist's render of Infinity Avionics space surveillance system with coaligned optical heads. Credit: Infinity Avionics

SAN FRANCISCO – Australian startup Infinity Avionics is developing a dual-headed camera system for space-based space surveillance.

With approximately 1 million Australian dollars ($660,000) provided by the Australian research consortium SmartSat CRC, the Australian Capital Territory government and internal research funding, Canberra-based Infinity Avionics is working with the University of New South Wales Canberra Space and Australian startup Nominal Systems to develop technology to autonomously detect space objects.

“We’re trying to detect pieces of debris which are too small for radars to pick up,” Igor Dimitrijevic, Infinity Avionics founder and CEO, told SpaceNews. “We can also observe other spacecraft that may be out of control or where more information is needed due to an anomaly.”

The camera system includes a wide field of view event sensor that responds to changes in light but does not produce images.

“It has a very high dynamic range compared to a normal image sensor,” Dimitrijevic said. “We can see very faint changes or very faint events.”

Tip and Cue

When the event camera detects changes or movement, it tasks the coaligned narrow field of view camera to collect imagery.

“This allows us to detect events or movements that you would miss with a normal camera,” Dimitrijevic said. “And if you have a normal camera, you have to constantly take frames which generates enormous amounts of data, which you can never downlink. With this dual-head camera system, we are able to identify or detect events and capture them by generating a small amount of data that’s easy to manage in terms of downlink and processing.”

Digital twinning technology from Canberra-based Nominal Systems is helping Infinity Avionics simulate the concept of operations for the dual-headed camera system and validate requirements.

“We are already providing cameras and sensors for similar applications for space-based space surveillance,” said Damith Abeywardana, Infinity Avionics founder and managing director. “This is an improved system to automate and add some smarts to the cameras.”

UNSW Spinoff

Infinity Avionics, a spinoff from the University of New South Wales in Canberra, was founded in 2020. The startup produces optical sensors and computer processors in addition to providing engineering consulting services directly and through international partners.

Prior to co-founding the startup, Dimitrijevic was the lead electronics engineer in the University’s space group.

Potential customers for the dual-headed camera system include Australian Space Command and international organizations.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...