It’s the kind of stormy weather that’s not visible by the naked eye — or even by telescope, for that matter.
But at any given moment, the space around our planet can be a swirl of chaotic energy and flaring heat, threatening the satellites that float in earth’s orbit.
It’s a problem that is only worsening as modern civilization grows ever more reliant on satellites, according to Srikanth Kodeboyina, founder of the Greer-based technology company Blue Eye Soft.
“Space weather events such as solar flares impact objects in space as well as on the ground,” Kodeboyina said.
Consider a sudden heat wave here on earth, which can damage power infrastructure or overwork a home’s HVAC system. Now increase that heat by a significant margin as solar flares, which propel clouds of plasma that can reach as much energy as billions of megatons of exploding TNT, have the potential to knock satellites right out of orbit.
That’s why Kodeboyina, a native of rural India and a United States Army Reserve member, founded the startup Blue Eye Soft in 2016. The Greer-based company focuses on analyzing space weather data, both historic and real time, using artifice intelligence to predict risk way off in the ether.
The technology is dense — terms like “satellite telemetry characteristics” and “orbital conditions” and “domain specific algorithms” are frequently discussed — but the technology ultimately functions like a meteorologist’s doppler radar, albeit for space. Predictive models are translated into visualizations through an interactive dashboard that can help both commercial and governmental operators have the highest grade of security protocols for satellites and their spacecraft.
It’s a need that affects more than just astronauts, according to Kodeboyina.
“The civil world, the commercial world and the defense industry depend heavily on modern infrastructure like aviation, GPS and communications, which are all monitored or served by satellites,”Kodeboyina said. “Impact on satellites and on other infrastructures translates to impact on the global economy and can endanger human life.”
Imagine your phone’s GPS system going dead, or internet service cutting out across a broad swath of the country, or airplanes suddenly losing the ability to communicate with ground control — such are the risks of a global system that relies on satellites to operate.
Kodeboyina likes to say his company’s Blue Space’s SAFER system (Space Anomaly Forensics & Environment Resolution) works to “weatherproof space.”
“Basically, we use advanced analytics and fusion capabilities to predict these anomalies, and the product will notify satellite operators automatically so they can take the best course of action as quickly as possible,” he said.
In 2020, Blue Eye Soft was selected to be part of the Air Force Research Laboratory Catalyst Space Accelerator for technology and innovation and received phase one and two SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) contracts.
But the models of Blue Eye Soft have applications beyond space — or beneath space, depending on how one looks at it.
Spurred by the pandemic, the company has expanded its predictive models to help people more directly here on earth by improving the speed and accuracy of medical diagnostic software. The result, BlueDoc, is software that uses technology licensed from the University of Dayton to function essentially as a medical device, detecting the presence of COVID-19 via chest X-rays in seconds with high accuracy. Subsequently, it will be utilized for early detection of lung cancer. Kodeboyina said testing for patterns in radiation is not unlike testing for patterns in space weather.
Despite the world-wide — and cosmic — applications of the technology, Kodeboyina is setting roots down in the Upstate.
“On the surface, it may seem odd for a company focused on the space economy to be here, but I looked at many states before deciding to call Greer home,” he said. “We will have offices in other states and countries, but South Carolina is an extremely welcoming state, and many people and organizations here such as the S.C. Department of Commerce have been incredibly supportive of our initiatives.”
What do we use satellites for?
- Sat-Navs in cars
- Tracking endangered animals and wildlife
- Ship tracking across oceans
- Airplane tracking across skies
- Weather forecasts
- Telephone calls
- Radio and TV broadcasts
- Internet data
-Rocket Lab, aerospace manufacturer
Why the name “Blue Eye Soft”?
“Soft” refers to software, but “blue eye” is a reference to the sensitivity of blue eyes to light, due to a lack of melanin, compared to other-colored eyes.
“Blue eyes, in this sense, see more,” Kodeboyina said.