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Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. We are one of the top 100 of the world's universities.

Space Glasgow is an umbrella group for space research activities at the University. Our work seeks to enhance our understanding of space and enable further exploration of our solar system. Space Glasgow research covers research in connectivity, Earth information, in-space robotics, low-cost access to space, space weather, as well as spaceflight and exploration laboratories focussed on gravitational waves, spacecraft construction, plume-surface interactions, and ground exploration.

Our broader research is applied to the following SPRINT areas:


Photonics-and RF-based systems are both focus areas within the James Watt School of Engineering and the School of Physics and Astronomy. The James Watt Nanofabrication Centre is a 1400 m2 clean room that houses over £35m of fabrication and testing equipment, dedicated to these fields. Additionally, within the divisions of Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering there are 35 academics dedicated to photonics, enabling communications technologies. The Communications, Sensing and Imaging group research cover RF, Antenna, IoT and 5G communication technologies, with a focus on emerging applications. The School of Physics and Astronomy has several research groups dedicated to quantum optics and imaging, enabling high-precision sensing and communications technologies, with £1m worth of state-of-the-art imaging equipment, encompassing 30 academic staff. This expertise highlights the focus on developing communications technologies, delivering several applications including space connectivity. In addition, the QuantIC hub based at the University of Glasgow supports the development of Quantum Imaging techniques, including LIDAR, single pixel imaging, laser-based communications, and communications modelling techniques.

Earth Information

There is a broad range of research activity within the University of Glasgow related to this area. Research in the Institute of Gravitational Research focuses on Machine Learning and Data science techniques, with strong applications in analytics. This is echoed in the School of Computing Science, where Cyber Security and Information Retrieval are strengths. Additionally, in the analysis of satellite mapping data, the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences have a particular interest, with several projects utilising such information on various urban and rural areas. Multiple academics use this data in their research, and alignment with SPRINT will allow for collaborations with SMEs and larger companies to develop and optimise their platforms for data analytics. The James Watt School of Engineering’s Space and Exploration Technology group also has strong relevance in this area, with work being undertaken on planetary surfaces, and the translation of this technology to challenging environments on Earth such as the Antarctic region.

In-space robotics

The Space group in the James Watt School of Engineering have strong technical expertise in robotics with having undertaken research on robotics in harsh environments, including planetary rovers, drill tools for planetary exploration, and solar sailing. In the Integrated Space and Exploration Technologies Laboratory tools are developed for planetary surfaces in various ways, and payloads are created for planetary orbit. Additionally, the ESA-ESTEC National Testing Facility can allow for rocket exhaustor planetary atmosphere simulations. Finally, the Space Optics and Interferometry ISO 7 cleanroom allows for high-quality components to be assembled, integrated, and tested on various systems, an example of this is the LISA Pathfinder. There is a range of high-quality equipment available here to realise optical assemblies for a range of systems.

Low-cost access to space

Our Space group can facilitate technologies to help reduce the requirements in power to launch satellites into space such as developing small-scale launch systems to allow individual CubeSats to launch, as well as comprehensive analysis of launch systems. Our researchers are also investigating systems that provide autonomous power for satellites and sensors in extreme conditions, in addition to electric propulsion of small satellites using MEMS-based technologies. The strength of our Space and Exploration Technology group in supporting industry to develop launch systems and payloads is world-leading, with our academics working with collaborators worldwide to enable access to space. The University’s expertise in this area strongly aligns to SPRINT and will help enhance the expertise of companies and institutions on the programme.

Space Technologies and Mission Analysis

The University of Glasgow also undertakes a broad range of research on underpinning space technologies and supporting disciplines such as orbital dynamics, trajectory optimisation, attitude control and mission design. Additionally, our team can support missions with our analysis expertise, notably in how the gravity fields of the sun, the planets and their moons can interact to provide paths along which spacecraft can freely travel, without the need to apply huge changes in velocity. These paths are being identified by our researchers so that spacecraft can use the most efficient trajectories and propulsion technologies to access different targets in space. We are also looking into related concepts that can allow spacecraft to collect solar power from space, hover between the Earth and the sun using the pressure of sunlight, and even deflect asteroids onto new paths. Additionally, though a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies we are investigating new concepts for space technologies, satellite platforms and mission design from micro-to-macro length-scales. By pushing the boundaries of length-scale to these extremes, it is anticipated that unsuspected new concepts will emerge which can underpin the new downstream satellite applications of the future.

Space Weather

Driven by our expertise in the Schools of Physics and Astronomy and Mathematics and Statistics, we measure the variation of the flux of solar or galactic energy and matter entering and affecting the Earth system. It is mainly driven by the Sun and its activity and it is modulated by the Earth’s environment. One of the crucial aspects for understanding and predicting space weather is the knowledge of the magnetic field in space and time, and in particular in the Earth’s magnetotail, where a systematic build-up of magnetic energy often precedes a so-called substorm. By modelling and observing space weather we can understand its effect upon the electromagnetic environment around the Earth. Space weather monitoring and early storm detection can be used to mitigate risk in sensitive technological systems, on the ground, but also on aircraft and spacecraft.

Glasgow – Satellite Capital of Europe!

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