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EO internship in Italy for SmartSat students

SmartSat CRC is set to send two PhD students to Italy to work with the European Space Agency on Earth observation research.

La Trobe University’s Brandon Victor and RMIT’s Nermine Hendy will start the three-month internship in January at the ESA’s Φ-lab (Phi Lab) in Frascati, Lazio.

The centre, like SmartSat, seeks to bring together industry and academia to develop innovative ideas. It significantly follows a deal between the two organisations to work more closely together.

“This international collaboration is a great testament to the progress being made in Australia’s space industry and a chance to showcase our nation’s expertise,” said SmartSat’s chief executive officer, Professor Andy Koronios.


Victor recently completed a computer science honours in deep learning at La Trobe University and will use the trip to further his work on using satellites to phenotype plants from space research.

His supervisor at La Trobe, Dr Zhen He, said, “International experience and collaboration are invaluable to further develop the skills of Australia’s young scientists.

“Programs like this enable students like Brandon the chance to learn from some of the world’s greatest aerospace engineers and scientists and forge international connections that will generate new ideas and innovation.”

The new agreement between SmartSat and Φ-lab followed a more informal collaboration that will see Dutch company Cosine put its hyperspectral imager on the upcoming Kanyini satellite, developed in South Australia.


It’s being designed and built in a collaboration between Myriota, Inovor Technologies, SmartSat, and the South Australian state government.

Its mission will support research into crop health, forests, inland water, and coasts and provide information on heat generators in South Australia.

Onboard will be the HyperScout imager payload, a hyperspectral imager that can capture images in multiple narrow and contiguous spectral bands.

The positive news from SmartSat comes despite the federal government recently announcing it would scrap a flagship $1.2 billion EO project to detect bushfires from space.

The National Space Mission for Earth Observation (NSMEO) was announced by the previous administration in the weeks leading up to the election and would have seen four local satellites launched from 2028.

It significantly followed the cancellation of a separate promise to invest $32.3 million into Australia’s spaceports and launch sites amid criticism that Labor lacks interest in the space sector.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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