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University of Glasgow Students Design Satellite That Monitors Climate Change From Space

A team of students from the University of Glasgow will see a satellite they designed sent into space after winning a £600,000 national competition.

The GU Orbit team have won the LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition at an awards event held at Farnborough International Airshow on Friday the 22nd of July.

The UofG students beat 40 UK teams, with the judges praising their entry for identifying a clear way to tackle climate change and test new technologies. The team spent months of intensive work on design and planning, with feedback provided by experts from the UK Space Agency.

Their design for a satellite capable of monitoring climate change from space will now be built and could be launched from a UK spaceport as soon as next year.

Named OirthirSAT, the tech will monitor shorelines and coastal vegetation from orbit using images taken in the visible and near-infrared portions of the spectrum.

Those images, which will be aggregated over time and processed onboard the nanosatellite, could help scientists and policymakers to track, quantify and mitigate the effects of climate change on coastal regions.

Joe Gibbs, one of the student leads of the OirthirSAT team, commented: “The whole team are delighted to have been selected as winners of the competition and to move one step closer to launching the OirthirSAT platform.

“The competition has highlighted the existing capability of student teams to design nanosatellites and we hope as a team to showcase what the UK space sector has to offer. Following this result, we move onto the detailed design phase and will begin refining the design of our nanosat ready for the critical design review (CDR) later this year.

“OirthirSAT will generate important data on the UK coastline that will be invaluable to shaping UK policy on climate change, and I look forward to being a part of the student team developing the platform.”

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, commented: “Satellite technology plays a crucial role in monitoring our climate and it is fantastic to see so many innovative ideas to help tackle the most pressing issue facing our planet. My congratulations go to the winners from the University of Glasgow for their excellent design.

“The countdown to the first satellite launch from UK soil is on and this will be a historic year for our space sector. Being the first country in Europe to offer launch will boost our satellite industry further, creating hundreds of new jobs across the UK.”

The OirthirSAT team is made up of undergraduate and postgraduate students from across the James Watt School of Engineering, the School of Computing and the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “With satellite launches due to start from home soil this year, there is no better time to support the next generation of space experts in developing satellites to support our mission against climate change.

“My congratulations go to OirthirSAT and everyone shortlisted for their hard work throughout this competition, and I applaud the innovation all the teams have shown throughout.”

Source: DIGIT

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