With Spectrum Interference a Growing Issue Calian gets Canadian Space Agency Contract for Modeling Software

Image credit: Calian.

The Calian Group has won a contract to provide simulation tools to the Canadian Space Agency for the growing issue of spectrum interference. The amount of the award is as yet undisclosed.

Calian is a “diverse products and services company,” according to their news release with a strong presence in defence, cybersecurity, and satellite communications. Key clients include the Department of National Defence, Inmarsat, Intelsat, the ESA, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin. 

In this case, they will be developing spectrum interference simulation software that will “help the CSA coordinate frequency for the ongoing shared use of valuable Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum,” particularly for Earth observation missions. 

Calian elaborated on the need for the software, saying that the growing number of constellations in Earth’s orbit will create a “surge in contention for spectrum use,” leading to likely interference between satellites. As this could end up “potentially impacting CSA’s Earth observation and scientific missions,” the CSA needs to study the problem using these kinds of simulation tools, so as to properly roll out potential solutions before the problems become acute. 

The simulation technology will “equip the CSA with vital insights” on how to deal with crowded transmission spectrums, according to Calian’s announcement,” enabling efficient planning and preparation to navigate the challenges presented by heightened spectral congestion.”

This is the second Calian award in recent months. As detailed in previous SpaceQ coverage, Calian was also given a CSA contract under the focused on “Intelligent Early Anomaly Detection and Failure Prediction Support Tools.” The contract, part of the CSA’s Space Technology Development Program (STDP), employs artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to “unlock mission efficiencies that were previously not possible with traditional systems,” according to Calian’s Dan Baril.  

Baril told SpaceQ at the time that he hoped that the work training the ML models will help to “identify satellite anomalies and predict on-orbit failures”, as well as creating standards that “reduce the amount of mission-specific training required for personnel”.

In the case of this contract, the announcement suggests that it will be used for the development of Calian’s “EarthMesh” modeling software platform. According to Russ Palmer, VP of Software Defined Solutions at Calian, EarthMesh is an “elastic computational engine utilized to model and analyze extensive and dynamic networks of space and ground-based assets over time and space.” In other words, it simulates the various LEO constellations and their ground stations, as well as interference that may arise between all of them.  It “serves as a dynamic tool,” he said, “empowering space agencies, satellite operators, and terrestrial operators to anticipate, analyze, and optimize the utilization of the RF spectrum.”

While Calian’s announcement did not provide further information on EarthMesh, the term “elastic computational engine” has also been used to describe Google’s DeepMind AI. This suggests that, like with the previous contract, EarthMesh will rely heavily on ML algorithms and AI models to model the constellations and predict their conflicts over spectrum. 

(For more on the issue of signal interference management, also see this recent SpaceQ coverage on Magnestar, a Canadian startup focused on modeling, predicting, and mitigating signal conflicts.) 

Patrick Thera, Calian’s President of Advanced Technologies, said that “we are thrilled to support the CSA by providing an innovative solution to facilitate Canada’s ongoing scientific mission operations”, adding that “these missions hold critical importance in providing a unique perspective of Earth—driving leading-edge science and enabling applications and services across Canada.”

About Craig Bamford

Craig started writing for SpaceQ in 2017 as their space culture reporter, shifting to Canadian business and startup reporting in 2019. He is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, and has a Master's Degree in International Security from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. He lives in Toronto.

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