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Turkish university harnesses AI to monitor space activity

Spacecraft and objects, including satellites passing over Türkiye, can be tracked using artificial intelligence in a project which will also enable the detection of espionage activities.

Prof. Tahsin Cagri Sisman, vice rector of Turkish Aeronautical Association University, shed light on the project.

Sisman said that they conduct satellite orbit determination studies using artificial intelligence and specifically deep learning at the university, aiming to contribute to Türkiye’s capabilities in space.

Recalling that one of the 10 goals in Türkiye’s National Space Program is “Observation and Tracking of Space Objects from Ground,” Sisman said that they are also working towards this goal.

He underlined that their ultimate goal is to develop an artificial intelligence application that will identify satellites and space objects in the sky.

The team initiated a study two years ago aimed at determining the position and speed of satellites and space objects passing over Türkiye using a domestic artificial intelligence application.

Their project focuses on conducting space awareness studies utilizing artificial intelligence, with an emphasis on integrating orbital mechanics with deep learning.

They aim to commence trials by the end of the year, which will allow for the instantaneous learning of the speed, position, and orbit of any space object observable through amateur radio bands passing over the country.

National Security and AI

Sisman expressed a desire for artificial intelligence applications to learn about space objects, similar to how people learn by observing the sky.

He explained that they aim to collaborate with other space stakeholders in the country.

Having completed artificial intelligence-based orbit determination studies in two dimensions on the Equatorial plane, Sisman reported their goal of elevating the AI application to a more professional level by converting the data into three dimensions.

He also noted the occurrence of “Doppler shift” in the signal frequency when satellites send radio signals to ground stations as they approach or move away, indicating the possibility of determining orbits based on this. He stated that they are conducting related research at the THK University Ground Station.

Spy Satellites Can Be Tracked

Highlighting the implications of the project, Sisman emphasized that national security is closely tied to this goal.

Currently, orbit data for spy satellites is not accessible through existing channels like ‘space-track.org,’ underscoring the significance of indigenous projects for safeguarding Türkiye’s security interests.

The project aims to leverage artificial intelligence to track and ascertain the orbits of spy satellites, providing insights into their transit schedules over Türkiye. This capability enables the concealment of clandestine activities carried out by these satellites, further enhancing national security measures.