ESA Technology Transfer Success Story - Uncovering the secrets of data: spacecraft-grade AI to better inform European SMEs

ESA Technology Transfer Success Story - Uncovering the secrets of data: spacecraft-grade AI to better inform European SMEs [Aug/2022]

KETTY, a machine learning solution developed by Italian firm SATE with ESA funding to detect anomalies in satellite telemetry data, has been used to improve the performance of Austrian IT specialists eMentalist’s event detection platform for SMEs.

To develop their own system for detecting abnormalities in satellites, in 2010 ESA contracted engineering firm, SATE, who at the time were specialised in automobile diagnostics, to develop a solution. Through this approach SATE developed KETTY (Knowledge ExtracTion Tool for TelemetrY), a software tool capable of detecting novel behaviour (e.g., the first signs of a fault), without requiring any a priori knowledge. KETTY uses machine learning algorithms, which are adapted and used within SATE’s patented methodology: ‘proprietary machine learning approach’. In summer 2017, the Austrian firm eMentalist, who were at the time involved in the ESA business incubator programme, were looking to improve the data analytics performance of their Event Detection platform. SATE used their KETTY algorithm to support eMentalist in anomaly detection and correlation, and causality analysis. eMentalist sent SATE their data and SATE returned useful insights, which eMentalist then incorporated into services sold to companies.

In general, this type of information is useful for companies who are consumer focused and hope to gain better insight on customer decision-making. eMentalist leveraged the insights provided by KETTY to develop a useful product for small and medium-sized firms to gain a better understanding of their business environment. This improved decision base should in turn lead to better, more informed companies, boosting their profitability and success. Potential applications are manifold; to give one example, a firm considering running a new product can check if this product matches the market trend.

A number of recent studies have also demonstrated the enormous potential of data analytics to increase profitability; it was recently estimated that poor quality data costs the US economy a huge €2.94tn each year, demonstrating the potential for increased profitability in this area. Just 12% of companies use data-driven intelligence to guide key business functions and corporate strategy, highlighting a large potential market. Whilst large companies are to-date the main users of highly specialised insights products, eMentalist are now focusing on delivering reliable insight to small and medium-sized firms for relatively low prices. KETTY is a sophisticated, highly reliable tool which can be applied to any sector, without requiring specialist knowledge from field experts.

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This initiative is led by ESA's Technology Transfer and Patent Management Unit (TTPO) in ESA's Directorate for Commercialisation, Industry & Procurement. The Unit is guiding start-ups, entrepreneurs and European businesses in developing spin-offs for ESA's space technologies. More recent successful transfers can be accessed at: Technology Transfer - Funded Projects. For more information, please contact

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