Blockchain solution to counter threat of faking satellite imagery with artificial intelligence
Toulouse, October 18 2023 – Startup 3IPK and Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), have been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop an innovative blockchain solution for managing traceability and ensuring the integrity of Earth- observation data under its FutureEO program.
Thales Alenia Space is partnering Slovakian startup 3IPK to develop this technology, contributing its system and ground segment expertise built up through the European Union’s Copernicus program and its Sentinel fleet of environmental observation, monitoring and protection satellites.
Satellites keeping a crucial eye on our planet
In a world where Earth-observation satellites have become the guardians of our planet, delivering vital data across sectors as diverse as urban planning, climate science, agriculture and energy, data authenticity and integrity are more vital than ever. Today, 60% of the 55 essential climate variables (ECVs), such as temperature and greenhouse gases, are measured by satellites.
As satellite imagery takes on increasing importance to inform, shape and apply global environmental policies, ensuring data authenticity is imperative, in particular with the emergence of new artificial intelligence-based deep-faking methods that are almost impossible to detect. For example, it is now possible to change carbon emissions budgets by altering source data.
Until now, no solution has been capable of incontestably proving the provenance and integrity of such crucial data. Furthermore, the increasing use of satellite data to support operational services and their global distribution calls for a robust solution to assure their traceability and thus guarantees their origin, reliability and use.
Bringing avant-garde blockchain technology to the satellite Earth-observation data value chain
To address this challenge, ESA has selected startup 3IPK to incorporate blockchain technology in the Earth-observation data processing chain. 3IPK and Thales Alenia Space will develop a cybersecurity solution designed to ensure the traceability and integrity of EO data through unique digital signatures. Processing chain stakeholders will thus be able to identify data provenance with confidence, making it easier for them to counter the growing threat of faked satellite imagery. An initial version of this solution will be delivered to ESA in the first half of 2024.
Blockchain technology will be adapted and tested on Thales Alenia Space’s Earth-observation processing chains including the Thales Alenia Space production line for data from the Copernicus program’s Sentinel-2 satellites. This data is today vital in helping scientists, governments and humanitarian organizations monitor land surfaces and mitigate natural disasters like flooding and volcanic eruptions.
A solid partnership leveraging the complementary expertise of two key space and blockchain players
This project will be drawing on the complementary expertise of key blockchain player 3IPK and Thales Alenia Space, a go-to partner for international Earth-observation satellite programs, which has contributed to 11 of the Copernicus program’s 12 missions.
Founded in 2019, 3IPK develops and sells a software solution to ensure the security of sensitive industrial supply chain data that Thales Alenia Space has been using since 2021.
3IPK joined the French space agency CNES’s Space Founders accelerator program this year, and in June also signed up to Thales Alenia Space’s own Space Business Catalyst accelerator that offers technical, commercial, networking and funding support to intrapreneurs and startups, giving them a unique opportunity to build strategic partnerships with a legacy space industry player. This agile structure, operating out of Thales Alenia Space’s facilities in Toulouse and Turin, fosters the development of solutions with the potential to create key disruptive technologies.
This contract falls within the long-term cooperation agreement that Thales Alenia Space France and 3IPK signed this year to incorporate blockchain technology in Thales Alenia Space’s systems. “This contract is a significant step toward authenticating Earth-observation data,” said Juraj Zamecnik, co-founder of 3IPK. “Our collaboration with ESA and Thales Alenia Space shows our shared commitment to making sure that this data, crucial to science and policymaking, remains reliable and inviolable for the benefit of future generations.”
“Thales Alenia Space’s teams are proud to be contributing to this effort to strengthen the security and integrity of satellite data so crucial to the future of our planet,” said Loïc Rognant, Design Authority for Future System & Ground Segment Businesses, Thales Alenia Space. “Our partnership with 3IPK supports and consolidates our strategy to innovate and build cybersecurity into our Earth-observation systems in order to guarantee reliability and use, notably of data. This first contract marks a key milestone along the path to a future allying blockchain technology and space to make our world a safer place.”
Source : Thales Alenia Space