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Industry News


UK Space Agency funds development of cloud profiling radar project

An innovative cloud profiling radar is one of seven new projects being funded by the UK Space Agency.

Developed by a STFC RAL Space-led consortium, the G-band Radar for Cloud Evaluation (GRaCE) is a 200GHz, 1.5mm wavelength cloud-profiling radar, able to provide enhanced scientific data to improve the accuracy of numerical weather prediction models.

The cloud radar won a £609k (US$798k) share of a £4.7m (US$6.3m) funding pot, which aims to encourage the development of innovative sensors to monitor climate change, improve mapping and coordinate disaster relief efforts from space.

Dr Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said, “The UK is a world leader in Earth observation (EO) technology, which not only allows us to better understand the planet that we live on, but also has outstanding potential for export – providing highly skilled jobs and economic growth across the UK.

“This new funding is fundamental to our mission to grow the UK’s space economy and maintain our leadership in these science and technology areas, and I am keen to see the results.”

In November 2017 businesses and organizations were invited to bid for UK Space Agency funding to match their own investments in developing new EO technologies that could create export opportunities for the UK and match the ambitions of the newly released EO Technology Strategy.

Following a hotly contested competition run by the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI) and extensive peer review, the other six winning projects are:

- The development of a new high-resolution multispectral camera system for EO applications using a new Time Delay and Integration (TDI) CMOS image sensor;

- Onboard VidEo Rapid ProceSSing (OVERPaSS) – the implementation, testing and demonstration of ultra-high-resolution optical image analysis techniques (including super-resolution enhancement of images; retrieval of sub-pixel 3D point clouds; cloud detection and image quality assessment; change detection and moving object extraction; video compression), involving both innovative software techniques and dedicated hardware such as graphical processing units (GPUs);

- Compact Multispectral Imager for Nanosatellites II – an innovative single-pixel sensing technique for multispectral imaging instruments. The resulting payload is very compact and suitable for nanosatellite deployment, providing high capability at low cost;

- Fast slew gimbaled optics for real-time Earth observation applications – development of the mechanisms, optics and interfaces to deliver a protoflight model of a zoomable, fast slew, gimbaled video and still camera system;

- Characterization of Leonardo MCT APD arrays in the ANU hyperspectral instrument – Leonardo MW will develop and characterize large format Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT) Avalanche PhotoDiode (APD) arrays for use in future infrared instruments for export and operational space missions;

- Next-generation infrared calibration Sources (NGENIRS) – combination of a range of technologies funded through previous CEOI and NSTP programs in order to build and characterize a fully functional prototype flight black body demonstrator, which is a key enabling technology for delivering high-performance and accurate data from infrared sensing missions.

- July 2018

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