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Scholarship details

2024 RTP round - Low Altitude Lunar Imaging

Status: Closed

Applications open: 7/07/2023
Applications close: 25/08/2023

View printable version [.pdf]

About this scholarship

The Space Science and Technology Centre at Curtin University is building highly capable small spacecraft within its Binar Space Program. Our first spacecraft, Binar-1, which trialled our ultra-compact spacecraft platform was launched in October 2021, and we’re currently building the next three spacecraft, Binar-2, Binar-3 and Binar-4, for launch in the first half of 2024. With each iteration we are evolving our capability whilst retaining a highly compact platform which keeps around 70% of a 1U CubeSat available for mission payload. As we prepare for our flagship mission, Binar Prospector, which will travel to a low altitude orbit around the Moon and search for resources to enable the next era of space exploration, we are interested in exploring new ways to increase the reliability of small spacecraft via incorporating redundancy at the system level.
In order to deliver high resolution magnetometry, Binar Prospector will regularly operate at lower altitudes than previous Lunar orbiters. This unique perspective of the Moon will present an opportunity to capture inspiring and scientifically valuable imagery. 

The aims of the research project are to investigate the trade space for low altitude (10-30 km) Lunar imaging systems considering a broad range of options including multiple camera, multi-band and computational imaging systems with the goal of maximising the scientific and programmatic benefits of the opportunity provided by this unique perspective. Following the trade study, the project aims to develop, qualify and fly a prototype system to fly on a low Earth orbit pathfinder spacecraft to prove the critical systems ahead of the Lunar science mission.
A particular focus of the system will be on collecting high resolution imagery of possible future landing sites for robotic and human landings under NASA’s Moon to Mars Program. Current imagery is limited in spatial resolution and only available from an overhead perspective. Higher spatial resolution and oblique views will provide better insight into landing obstacles and allow mission designers to retire significant mission risk. 

In order to accomplish the aims, the first objective of this research project is to complete the trade study via analysis. The results of the trade study will be used to design an imaging system which will be ground tested, spaceflight qualified and then undergo integration testing with the pathfinder spacecraft platform. During the system design, the opportunities to capture inspiring imagery for STEM engagement with the general public will also be considered. Should the system successfully fly in Earth orbit, Earth observation data from the system will also be used to validate the system design. 

The outcomes of this work will shape the design of the imaging system on the Binar prospector Lunar spacecraft and the type of scientifically valuable and inspiring imagery captured during the mission. If successful, the imaging system architecture will be reused on future Australian planetary missions to other destinations such as Mars or near Earth asteroids.
The imagery collected during the Lunar science mission with the imaging system designed during this project, could influence the direction of humanity’s space exploration by providing unique observations of potential landing sites for future human and robotic landing missions.
The work will involve trade studies by analysis, imaging system development, embedded electronics, computer vision, assembly, ground testing in relevant environments (thermal vacuum chamber, vibration testing), flight qualification, on-orbit operations and publication.
This project will present opportunities to build hardware and develop software that will fly in space and opportunities to engage with SSTC’s industry partners. The Space Science & Technology Centre (SSTC) is the largest planetary science group in the southern hemisphere comprising ≈40 researchers with expertise across the planetary sciences, including planetary geology, fireball physics, impact crater analysis and statistics, and Solar System formation. The candidate will be exposed to a wide range of support from all personnel at levels, including academic and professional support, and will enjoy collegiate support from their PhD peers. 

This project may provide an internship opportunity. This project will present opportunities to complete an internship at SSTC’s existing industry partners, but the selection of the partner and the details will be determined after milestone one. 

  • Future Students
  • Faculty of Science & Engineering
    • Engineering courses
  • Higher Degree by Research
  • Australian Citizen
  • Australian Permanent Resident
  • New Zealand Citizen
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa
  • Merit Based

The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.

Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships at the 2023 RTP rate valued at $32,250 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3 years, with a possible 6-month completion scholarship. Applicants are determined via a competitive selection process and will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2023. 

For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Scholarship Details


All applicable HDR courses

This project is ideal for an applicant motivated to build more capable scientific and multipurpose space imaging systems with a keen interest in imaging systems, planetary science, computer vision or edge data processing. The suitable applicant will be a self-motivated candidate with excellent communication and teamwork skills who understands the bigger picture. The suitable applicant is likely to have a background in computer vision, embedded systems, electronics, computing, or mechatronics engineering. The applicant should have achieved first-class honours in a relevant undergraduate engineering, science or computer science degree and be able to demonstrate experience conducting a successful project. 

Application process

If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should contact the Project Lead (listed below in the enquires section) via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form. ahead of the closing date. Please note you should apply as soon as possible, as once a suitable candidate has been identified this opportunity will no longer be available to receive an EOI.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2024.

Recipients must complete their milestone 1 within 6 months of enrolment and remain enrolled on a full-time basis for the duration of the scholarship.


To enquire about this project opportunity that includes a scholarship application, contact the Project lead, Phil Bland via the EOI form above.

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