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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.