BIFROST: Danish project with international collaboration to explore AI based surveillance applications from space

The Danish Ministry of Defence has contracted with Danish partners for development and deployment of an artificial intelligence based surveillance satellite for monitoring of the Danish arctic regions.

The Danish Defence has an important and increasing challenge in relation to surveillance and intelligence gathering in the Arctic area. A major task for Danish Defence is detection of different types of land, maritime and aerial activity in the area. The monitoring of activity in the three domains from space can assist the Danish Defence in the task of enforcing sovereignty, and contribute to other operational tasks e.g. Search and Rescue as well as provide input for the day-to-day operational planning.

The BIFROST project will be initiated as a joint mission with several national as well as international partners. Space Inventor, Terma, GateHouse SatCom and DTU are undertaking a small satellite mission to the Danish Defence with the main purpose of demonstrating AI based surveillance from space. This will form a broad national foundation for the space technology needed to support Danish Defence in the future and will be a stepping stone towards a future international cooperation regarding space-based
surveillance activities of common interest.

BIFROST is a satellite-based system for advanced on-orbit image and signal analysis with the aim of establishing a platform in space to gain further experience in AI-based surveillance and sensor fusion using multiple on-board sensors. The satellite will also test means of communication directly between different satellites in order to achieve real-time access to the intelligence data, thereby demonstrating the feasibility of Tactical Earth Observation. This will demonstrate that the presence of a specific activity can be detected and reported to the operational ground controller in real-time.

Claus Sølvsteen from Danish Defence Acquisitions and Logistics Organisation says: “We are looking forward to examining the solutions that nanosatellites offer within Danish Defence. These years there is an escalating development in the areas of platforms, sensors and data processing. Therefore, it is important to stay aware of current advancements to investigate options for surveillance by utilising space technologies.”

The satellite mission includes evaluating the capability of changing AI models during the mission lifespan, which makes it possible for the artificial intelligence core to learn the characteristics of new subjects of interest thereby constantly adding to the capabilities of the surveillance system.

This mission will provide DALO (Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization) with information on applied AI in space for earth observation missions as well as detecting ships, oil spills and much more due to the versatile payloads on-board.

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