Pioneering space imaging project recognised with prestigious international prize

The Astrosite

The Western Sydney University research team that created the Astrosite™ – an innovative space imaging method – has been announced as the 2019 winner of the prestigious Misha Mahowald Prize (opens in a new window) for Neuromorphic Engineering.

Neuromorphic engineering is a field of electrical engineering that takes inspiration from neural systems in biology to build brain-like technology. The Misha Mahowald Prize – named for one of the most influential pioneers of neuromorphic engineering, and valued at USD$10,000 – is awarded each year to recognise outstanding research in the field.

The Prize has been awarded to Associate Professor Gregory Cohen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Saeed Afshar, Technical Officers Mr Colin Symons and Mr Paras Karki, and Professor André van Schaik – from the University’s International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems (ICNS) (opens in a new window) and MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development.(opens in a new window)

The team has been recognised for the Astrosite™ – a mobile space situational awareness (SSA) module that was unveiled in February 2019 at the Australian Avalon Airshow.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Gregory Cohen, says the ground-breaking Astrosite™ project has already proven game-changing in a number of fields, including defence.

“With tens of thousands of man-made objects currently orbiting in space, the risk of collision between debris, satellites and spacecraft has become a serious concern for organisations with a commercial interest in space, as well as national and international defence agencies,” says Associate Professor Cohen.

“The Astrosite™ uses event-based cameras that are inspired by the human eye, in which each pixel operates independently to only detect local changes in light intensity, in contrast to standard cameras where all pixels are captured at the same instant in time. This gives the event-based sensors an unprecedented resolution in time and dynamic range in intensity.”

The Misha Mahowald Prize is managed by iniForum GmbH,(opens in a new window) Switzerland, and decided by a jury of internationally recognised experts.

Associate Professor Cohen will accept the Prize on behalf of the ICNS team at a special awards ceremony as part of the 2020 CapoCaccia Workshop Conference Toward Neuromorphic Intelligence in Sardinia, Italy.


20 December 2019

Photo: Sally Tsoutas

Danielle Roddick, Senior Media Officer