Research Activities

The Space Technology Centre conducts nationally and internationally leading research into several areas of space technology: spacecraft onboard data handling, planetary lander technology and satellite data reception. In addition research is also done on system on chip and software development tools. The Space Technology Centre is funded by ESA, NERC, BNSC, STFC, and Scottish Enterprise. It has had a major influence on the design of spacecraft onboard data-handling and processing systems. Specifically it led the development of the SpaceWire standard for ESA, which has now been widely adopted by the world’s space agencies and is being used on many space missions. The Space Technology Centre has also developed the PANGU planet surface simulation tool used by ESA and the European space industry for testing autonomous guidance technology for planetary landers. This is the leading European tool for this type of work. The Satellite Receiving Station is the main receiving station in the UK for receiving environmental science data. It now forms one half of the NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS) whose work is regarded highly by environmental scientists and satellite communications engineers across the world.

Spacecraft Onboard Data Handling

ExoMars

Spacecraft have complex electronic data handling systems to collect data from sensors, process and store this information, to send it to a ground station and to receive commands from the ground. The Space Technology Centre is developing technology for spacecraft sensors and onboard communications networks. It was at the forefront of work on the SpaceWire standard, having written the SpaceWire standard document with input from spacecraft engineers across Europe, and is now researching higher-layer protocols for SpaceWire and faster technologies like SpaceFibre. Work on sensor technology includes wideband spectrometers and vision systems for various applications.

Planetary Lander Technology

ExoMars

The Space Technology Centre works on technology for planetary landers, spacecraft that land on the surface of other planets. The principal area of research interest is the entry, descent and landing phase which is the most hazardous for any lander. In particular research on autonomous navigation and piloting techniques are studied along with tools for supporting this research.

Satellite Receiving Station

Satellite Receiving Station

The Satellite Receiving Station collects data from several Earth observation satellites and distributes it to UK environmental scientists. The Satellite Receiving Station at Dundee operates the NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS) in partnership with the Remote Sensing Group at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. NEODAAS is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), primarily to support the UK research community including marine, atmospheric and terrestrial scientists. NEODAAS has supported users for many years with a comprehensive service from raw satellite data reception to scientific product delivery. The Satellite Station (NEODAAS-Dundee) provides direct satellite data acquisition, archiving and distribution services and the Remote Sensing Group (NEODAAS-Plymouth) provides advanced data processing and analysis services.

Other Research

This section describes some of the other exciting research and development activities which are taking place within the Space Technology Centre.