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Space exploration in Bristol is to be boosted thanks to the opening of a new satellite laboratory and ground station at the University of Bristol. The fully automated ground station, equipped with the latest tracking technology, will allow students and researchers to speak with astronauts in NASA’s International Space Station, download data from current satellites in orbit, and communicate with future University of Bristol-built satellites.
The state-of-the-art satellite laboratory will enable University of Bristol students to work on their own space missions by building and testing new satellites. Currently they are working on a UK Space Agency-funded project for a volcano monitoring satellite that will observe volcanoes from space and take images of ash clouds.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Dean of Engineering, Professor Andrew Nix, will mark the official opening, this will be preceded by talks given by BBC Two Astronauts: Do you have what it takes? finalist, Tim Gregory, and Spacecraft Systems Lecturer and joint director of the new facility, Dr Lucy Berthoud.
Dr Lucy Berthoud from the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Chair of Space Universities Network (SUN), said: “We are very excited. Having these unique facilities will allow Bristol to increase its opportunities in space research as well as educate the next generation of space scientists and engineers. We also plan to use them outreach activities in Bristol schools and museums.”
Dr Mark Schenk, Lecturer in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and joint director of the laboratory, explained: “The laboratory will provide students with real-life space missions to work on and enable our researchers to develop new space instruments and technologies.”
Professor Andrew Nix, Dean of Engineering, added: “We are thrilled to be the only University in the region to have this state-of-the-art satellite laboratory and ground station. The facilities will support space opportunities at Bristol. The project’s aim is to develop and operate a series of satellites to add exciting challenges to the student experience, to increase employability through cross disciplinary teamwork, and to unite different academic disciplines and student societies with an interest in space.”