Areas of Expertise





RAL Space at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory​ carries out an exciting range of world-class space research and technology development. With significant involvement in over 210 space missions, we are at the very forefront of UK space research. Our expertise covers a wide range of disciplines including; astronomy, solar physics, planetary physics, fundamental physics, earth observation, atmospheric chemistry and radio propagation. Our engineering disciplines include space electronics, detector systems, thermal and mechanical engineering, optics design, software engineering and e-Science.

Our 335 staff are dedicated to supporting the programmes of the STFC and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), as well as undertaking a large number of space projects for UK and overseas agencies, universities and industrial companies. We work closely alongside the UK Space Agency who co-ordinate UK civil space activities.

We undertake world-leading space research and Earth observation research and technology development, provide space test and ground-based facilities, design and build instruments, analyse and process data and operate S- and X-band ground-station facilities, as well as lead conceptual studies for future missions. We work with space and ground-based groups around the world.​​

For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries​​




Earth Observation and Atmospheric Sciences


  • Image of Earth showing sea surface temperature in colour scale.
  • SLSTR Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer in clean room
  • Artist's impression of Sentinel-3

Near-Earth Environment


  • Cluster spacecraft constellation in Earth's magnetosphere.

Planetary Science


Solar Physics


  • Image of the Sun

Space Weather