The Open University (OU) is leading on one of five UK space projects awarded over £1 million by the Government as part of its efforts to boost international innovation.
The National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP) International is the first fund dedicated to supporting the UK space sector through collaborations with international partners, designed to contribute to UK science, security and prosperity.
The OU’s project, ‘Enhancing UK EMCCD camera technology for space applications‘, will build on its Centre for Electronic Imaging’s (CEI) previous involvement in the design of bespoke sensors for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. By working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the team will further develop the UK imaging technology for the mission. The aim is to demonstrate the potential for enhanced performance, with the new UK tech as a flagship for space applications.
The OU will also work with the U R Rao Satellite Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to explore uses of the technology for their DISHA satellite mission, which will demonstrate the new sensor technology in flight-like conditions, alongside running new analysis and optimisation techniques.
With individual funding awarded of £279,000, the OU will collaborate with consortium partners; NASA JPL, U R Rao Satellite Centre (ISRO), Teledyne e2v (Te2v), XCAM Ltd and Grey Consultants.
Dr David Hall, Senior Lecturer in Space Science at the OU and academic lead of the team working on the project, commented:
“The OU worked in close collaboration with NASA JPL on the Roman CGI (then WFIRST) camera development throughout 2014-2019. With the support of JPL and Teledyne e2v, our team developed a new and improved sensor design to help counteract the harsh radiation environment that will be experienced in orbit. Having tested a variety of design modifications and selected the best for the mission’s aims, we now excitedly await the delivery of six flight-type devices from ESA later this year.
“This funding from UK Space Agency will enable us to develop a new laboratory camera testing system to allow detailed optimisation of the camera to help the Roman CGI to deliver the best results possible. Our work on these new sensors doesn’t stop with the Roman CGI – as part of this NSIP International project we are investigating other areas in which this new technology can be exploited, starting with the Space Astronomy Group at the U R Rao Satellite Centre (ISRO) who are leading the delivery of the Auroral X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (AXIS) on the twin satellite mission for Disturbed and quiet-type Ionosphere System at High Altitudes(DISHA).”
Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, added:
“Space technologies are part of almost every aspect of our daily lives. With rapid technological innovation, space offers a broad and growing range of opportunities to support economic activity and protect the environment.
“These projects champion the best of British innovation while strengthening our partnerships around the world.”
The other projects receiving funding include:
- Mars Ice Mapper SAR Antenna Feasibility Study, Oxford Space Systems, Oxford, £160,000
- InRange Launch Vehicle Telemetry Service, Inmarsat, London, £258,000
- The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Long Term Sustainability Guidelines: Promoting Space Sustainability, £85,000
- Impact-based Flood Forecasting for India, HR Wallingford, Oxfordshire, £265,000
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