The 4S Symposium


Professor João Sousa participated in the 4S Symposium where he presented a plenary session titled Unmanned vehicles for ocean observation.

The 4S Symposium (Small Satellites Systems and Services) that took place in Vilamoura, Portugal, between the 16th and 20th of May with Information Made in Space has theme for this year’s edition.

Quoting from the symposium website:

Small satellites are reaching one more turning point: Information Made in Space. Space assets are so far limited to acquiring data, all the added value activities are done on ground where raw data are processed to obtain the physical observable for which the system has been designed. A large variety of data products are extracted from physical observables and disseminated to end users.

COTS detectors and solid state memories usable on board of small satellites data grew significantly faster than satellite downlink. Massive amount of data can now be stored on board, but can’t be transmitted to ground, even with the newly developed optical link.

State-of-the-art artificial intelligence and image processing can, already today, extract in a few seconds ready-to-use information from the raw data. Once this functionality is available on board, the existing satellite interlink will be sufficient to send within minutes and anywhere on Earth the made in space information.

Information Made in Space and ready to use to citizens will broaden the market of information obtained by space systems. Market needs and technology evolution all point in this direction: to develop the capabilities to make information on-board, ready to use, available in real time anywhere on Earth. 

To start the era of Information Made in Space is necessary to break old schemes, nothing new to the small satellite business. Many developments along these lines are already running, both with small satellites and drones. Moving these capabilities on board requires a mentality shift, more than just technologies breakthrough, and it may happen sooner than we can imagine. 

For more information about the symposium go to