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RAL Space in the News
STFC RAL Space
Exoplanet mission Ariel passes review milestone
Ariel, the European Space Agency's (ESA) next-generation mission to observe the chemical make-up of distant extrasolar planets, has passed a major milestone after successfully completing its Payload Preliminary Design Review (PDR).
Professor David Newbold Appointed as STFC Executive Director, National Laboratories Science and Technologies
Experimental particle physicist Professor David Newbold has commenced work as the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Executive Director, National Laboratories Science and Technologies.
Enhancing Radio Astronomy at the Sardinia Radio Telescope
A team at RAL Space has developed and successfully installed a powerful new tool to observe distant galaxies and enhance space weather forecasting.
Final receivers for MetOp-SG delivered
RAL Space has delivered the last of 20 millimetre wave receivers developed for the Microwave Sounder and Microwave Imager instruments on board the MetOp-Second Generation satellites.
UKRI SWIMMR-1 launches in boost to UK space weather forecasting capabilities
The UKRI SWIMMR-1 radiation monitor has successfully launched from California, boosting the UK’s space weather capabilities.
National Satellite Test Facility to welcome Airbus as first customer
The National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), the UK's new £116m centre for testing large, next-generation satellites, will soon welcome Airbus Defence and Space UK as its first customer.
Fourth instrument in climate monitoring series leaves RAL Space
The fourth Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR-D) has left RAL Space and is on its way to be installed onto the Sentinel-3D satellite.
Scientists find first evidence that black holes are the source of dark energy
Observations of supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies point to a likely source of dark energy – the ‘missing’ 70% of the Universe.
Milky Way mapping team scoops 2023 Berkeley Prize
The team behind Gaia, the largest and most precise three-dimensional map of our galaxy, has received the 2023 Lancelot M. Berkeley − New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy.
RAL Space achieves UK's only ECSS-Q-ST-20-07C certification
RAL Space has been awarded the quality and safety assurance certification for space test centres from the European Space Agency (ESA).
RAL Space - A Physics Adventure!
Test your GCSE Physics knowledge in an online escape room.
UK-led robotic sky scanner reveals its first galactic fingerprint
A major telescope upgrade has peered through to the distant Universe to reveal the spectra of a pair of galaxies 280 million light years away from Earth.
Microcarb arrives in UK ahead of 2024 mission
Microcarb, a joint British and French satellite dedicated to monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide, has arrived at STFC RAL Space where its building and testing will be completed.
Early-stage studies into new flagship earth observation mission funded by new £15m government investment
STFC RAL Space will receive almost £15m as part of a new government package supporting Earth observation (EO) science.
Final flight model for PUNCH has shipped
RAL Space has shipped the remaining two of five CCD Camera Electronics systems for NASA’s Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) mission.
220,000 tonnes of methane likely released from Nord Stream gas leak
220,000 tonnes of methane are likely to have been released from the ruptures in the Nord Stream gas pipelines, new satellite data has revealed.
Tonga volcano had highest plume ever recorded
The devastating Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption in January 2022 created the tallest volcanic plume ever recorded, new research from STFC's RAL Space has shown.
Next generation gravity measuring device gets a boost
A new collaboration to demonstrate the use of additive manufacturing for a RAL Space-developed quantum gravimeter has been awarded funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
Monster star had never-before-seen titanic eruption
Astronomers using Hubble and other telescopes have found that supergiant star Betelgeuse blew off a huge piece of its visible surface in 2019. This has never before been seen on a star.
MWS Proto Flight Model installed on MetOp-SG satellite after successful calibration at RAL Space
The Microwave Sounder Proto Flight Model for the European Space Agency’s MetOp Second Generation weather satellites has been mounted to MetOp-SG Satellite A.
Innovative satellite technology set to improve weather forecasting
Cutting-edge technology offering more frequent and higher-resolution atmospheric monitoring will soon provide improved weather forecasts, available to global markets for use in resilience planning, flood warning and by the shipping industry.
RAL Space spin-out company Mirico accelerates climate change monitoring
RAL Space spin-out company Mirico announced today that it had raised £2 million to accelerate roll out of its greenhouse gas emission monitoring solutions.
First spectacular images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope released
The first full colour images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope have been released by NASA.
Quantum encryption spacecraft closer to launch
Speqtre, an innovative secure communications cubesat, has passed a major milestone in its journey to space.
Calling AI experts! Join the hunt for exoplanets
Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts have been challenged to help a new space mission to investigate Earth’s place in the universe.
Dr Sarah Beardsley appointed as RAL Space Director
The UK’s leading space laboratory, RAL Space, has appointed a new director to advance it’s ambitious programme of space science and technology development.
Webb’s coolest instrument captures first star
The UK’s main contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope, the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), has now opened its eye to the sky.
Celebrating 60 years of work in space research
60 years ago the UK became the world’s third space faring nation and, with the launch of Ariel 1 on the 26th April 1962, crossed the final frontier for the very first time.
Chilbolton Observatory celebrates 55 years!
Webb’s coldest instrument reaches operating temperature
The UK’s main contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope, the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), has been carefully cooled down to its operational temperature.
UK to build brain of SKAO telescopes
More than £15 million has been awarded to UK institutions which are delivering the crucial software ‘brain’ of the world’s largest radio telescope.
RAL Space insulation protecting the mission monitoring the Earth
RAL Space has designed and supplied around 100 thermal blankets to be wrapped around the German space agency’s (DLR) Environmental Mapping and Analysis Programme (EnMAP) satellite which will launch from the Kennedy Space Centre, USA in April.
RAL Space partners with the Jon Egging Trust
RAL Space delivered the pilot workshops as part of a new long-term partnership with the Jon Egging Trust. These workshops presented an opportunity to trial our first on-site events for school students in two years.
Funding to develop the concept design for Europe’s first facility for extra-terrestrial samples
There are at least eight missions planning to return samples from asteroids and Mars over the coming decade.
RAL Space Director, Professor Chris Mutlow announces retirement
After 36 years championing the missions, projects and ambitions of RAL Space and 7 years at the helm as Director, Professor Chris Mutlow will retire later this year.
James Webb Space Telescope launch celebrated by UK
The once-in-a-generation spacecraft, the James Webb Space Telescope, has been launched today with scientists and engineers across the UK playing a vital role in realising the mission.
RAL Space leading UKRI net zero computing goals
RAL Space staff within the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) are leading efforts in the research and innovation sector to reach net zero by 2040.
STFC spin-out company gets funding to improve satellite broadband
A Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) spin-out company, Atheras Analytics, has secured funding to enhance its software which optimises the performance of satellites for telecommunications companies.
Understanding the impact of aviation on global warming
Major new study reveals that aviation could consume up to one-sixth of the remaining temperature budget to limit warming to 1.5 ˚C.
UK and France reach new agreement on climate change mission
The UK Space Agency has provided new funding for a joint British and French mission called MicroCarb, dedicated to monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide - the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.
Space weather experts convene for landmark conference
The world’s leading space weather scientists are joining together for a landmark conference on the future of space weather forecasting and technology as part of European Space Weather Week.
The Science and Engineering Careers Challenge has been extended
The popular project to engage Girlguiding and Scout groups in STEM activities has received additional funding to continue awarding badges to young people who complete the challenge.
New technology for space weather monitoring from the ground
A new generation of radiation detectors are being employed to help protect safety critical systems and national infrastructure against the effects of severe space weather.
UK-led robotic sky-scanner takes its place on telescope
A major telescope upgrade, which will allow a comprehensive census of the Universe to answer fundamental astrophysical questions, is now close to completion.
UK scientists join NASA’s first steps back to the Moon
A team of UK scientists are helping to investigate the occurrence and behaviour of water on the Moon.
The big data revolution supporting breakthroughs in El Niño research
The effects of El Niño have been recorded for centuries, but new technologies over the last few decades have accelerated our ability to model and understand the processes involved
Imaging systems packing a PUNCH
The first engineering model of the CCD camera electronics for NASA’s Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) satellites has been completed by RAL Space.
Being prepared – UK scientists are helping Government plan for the effects of solar storms on Earth
Pandemics are just one of just a number of natural hazards that could threaten the UK. Space weather is another. It may seem like the stuff of science fiction but it is a very real phenomena which the UK added to the national risk register in 2011.
Space waste finds a new lease of life
Offcuts from space blankets are being turned into tiny insulating jackets to help a small UK company keep their cryocoolers cool.
RAL Space achieves EN 9100 certification
RAL Space has been awarded the aerospace industry quality certification EN 9100: 2018, recognising the high standard of the space test and clean room provision.
Novel calibration system delivered for Meteosat Third Generation
RAL Space has delivered the optical ground support equipment for the Meteosat Third Generation Imager (MTG-I) satellite to TAS France.
Missions to monitor climate change get new technology delivery
The Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space is taking on the challenge of monitoring climate change by delivering two key contributions to Earth observation missions.
The four winners of the Space Weather Competition have been announced
Four winners have been selected from a diverse set of brilliant entries for the 2020 Space Weather Competition.
UK Government funds the Hyperspectral Microwave Sounder, a new sensor for tracking extreme weather
A new kind of climate monitoring instrument from RAL Space is one of 21 highly innovative new projects funded by the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP).
Smaller, faster, cheaper – ESP-MACCS chosen as ESA’s first Earth observation Scout mission
A new mission to study how climate change affects the processes in the Earth’s atmosphere has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA).
First pyroshock tests completed at RAL Space
A satellite’s journey into space is a violent affair. Not only does the delicate instrumentation inside need to withstand the extreme vibrations of launch, they also go through a series of short, sharp shocks as the spacecraft separates from the rocket.
ESA formally adopts Ariel, the exoplanet explorer
The European Space Agency (ESA) have formally adopted Ariel, the first mission dedicated to study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets.
The National Satellite Test Facility takes shape
More than 900 tonnes of steel framework has been installed and 3000mᶟ of concrete poured to complete the main structure of the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF).
STFC helps scientists find hints of life on Venus
An international team of astronomers, led by the UK, has today announced the discovery of a rare molecule in the clouds of Venus that hints at the presence of microbial life.
UK led instrument on STEREO spacecraft keeps a watch on Betelgeuse
A UK led instrument aboard NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), came to the aid of scientists studying a star further afield in the summer of 2020.
Cluster - one of the hardest working space missions you’ve never heard of turns 20
On 4th June 1996, four satellites launched from Kourou in French Guiana. 37 seconds in to its flight, the Cluster mission was lost.
First images from Solar Orbiter’s SPICE instrument revealed
ESA’s historic Solar Orbiter mission has released its first and closest ever images of the Sun from a distance of just over 77 million kilometres.
STFC team helps national consortium deliver 13,437 ventilators
Latest satellite data show full Moon may not be protected by Earth’s magnetic field after all
A new study involving RAL Space scientists has found that the Moon is exposed to potentially damaging charged particles at times it was previously thought to be protected.
UK space sector gets a boost with the installation of a giant new satellite test chamber
The UK’s space industry has received a major piece of new equipment to help get larger, more complex satellites ready for launch. A 16m long space test chamber, amongst the giants of Europe, has been installed in the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility.
Become a CloudCatcher: Climate science needs your family’s help!
CloudCatcher is a new project harnessing the power of citizen science to help climate change research. Scientists at RAL Space, need your help to check their cloud identification tools.
SPICE receives “First Light”
The SPICE instrument on board ESA’s Solar Orbiter has now successfully taken its first measurements of the Sun.
Professor Sir John Houghton, CBE FRS FLSW
30 December 1931 – 15 April 2020
Scouts and Girl Guides reach for the stars with a new Science and Engineering Careers Challenge
A group of graduates working in the space sector have created a new, free challenge for Girlguiding and Scout groups that is designed to introduce different science and engineering careers to young people, through hands-on activities.
Weather forecasters turn to Welsh radar to ease unexpected coronavirus impact
A radar in Wales is helping weather forecasters deal with an unexpected impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
New facility for atmospheric measurements launches
A new research facility will offer scientists access to mobile instrumentation, laboratories and observatories across the world.
Technicians rise to the VentilatorChallengeUK
STFC staff are forming part of a national collaboration that’s producing ventilators for the NHS; developing and delivering the training needed for others (including more STFC members) to carry out the necessary testing and calibration.
We have telemetry – SPICE successfully switched on
Two weeks after launch, the SPICE instrument on board ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft was turned on for the first time on Monday 24th February. The first signals from the instrument have been received which indicate that it is in good health.
LOFAR pioneers new way to study exoplanet environments
Astronomers using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio telescope have discovered unusual radio waves coming from the nearby red dwarf star GJ1151.
UK-built spacecraft to observe the Sun successfully launches
The UK-built Solar Orbiter spacecraft has now begun its nearly two year journey towards the Sun to observe the Sun close-up and study its polar regions for the first time.
STEREO Heliospheric Imager team win RAS geophysics award
The Royal Astronomical Society has announced that the RAL Space group responsible for the Heliospheric Imagers (HI) on board NASA’s STEREO mission are to be awarded the 2020 Group Achievement Award.
Groundworks on the National Satellite Test Facility nearing completion.
Progress is being made in the delivery of the National Satellite Test Facility with final groundworks taking place and first equipment delivered.
Camera electronics on route to Russia for the World Space Observatory
UK electronics are once again at the heart of an international space mission to study the evolution of the universe.
Sun explorer spacecraft leaves for launch site
The UK-built Solar Orbiter spacecraft, which will investigate the workings of our Sun, is preparing to leave the test facility in Germany to head for its launch site in the USA.
Professor Brian Ellison is elected as Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering
Professor Brian Ellison, Head of the Millimetre-Wave Technology and Chilbolton Radio Group at STFC RAL Space, is amongst 54 engineers from the UK and around the world to have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2019.
£20 million project to tackle space weather
£20million of funding to upgrade the UK’s resilience to space weather events has been announced today by the Prime Minister at the UN General Assembly.
Monitoring the methane cycle – testing new instruments in Finnish wetlands
Methane gas has far greater warming properties than carbon dioxide and though shorter lived in the atmosphere, is a major contributor to global warming.
Collaborating with CHARM – a new UK astronomy instrument is set for Mexico
A new instrument to help astronomers understand how stars are born is bound for the Large Millimetre Telescope (LMT) in Mexico.
Olympus Rover Competition 2019
Students from across the UK competed in the third UKSEDS Olympus Rover Competition at STFC’s RAL Space in Harwell on Sunday 28th July.
UK set to host the European Space Weather Week 2020
The city of Glasgow is used to all kinds of weather in a day. In 2020 Glasgow will be hosting scientists and engineers from around the world to talk about space weather, the effect of solar storms on the space surrounding the Earth.
UK scientists set to work with NASA on a new mission to study the Sun
UK space scientists are working alongside NASA to build a four-spacecraft mission aimed at revolutionising our understanding of the Sun’s atmosphere and how it affects the rest of our solar system.
Supporting scientists to study our complex planet
RAL Space’s Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) is using data science expertise to support a major project that will warn us of changes in the Earth’s ecosystem.
Detecting disease using technology designed for Mars
A technology developed to measure gases on Mars is part of a pilot clinical study testing its effectiveness as a medical diagnostic tool for sepsis.
A space journey at the Cornerstone Arts Centre
On 18 April 2019, RAL Space teamed up with colleagues across the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot to host a free family science day that explored our Earth, Moon and Sun.
STFC team enables astronomers to produce the first ever image of a black hole
This breakthrough in astronomy reveals an image of a black hole 55 million light years from Earth and which has a mass 6.5 billion times that of our Sun.
Astronomers detect hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies
A major new radio sky survey has revealed hundreds of thousands of previously undetected galaxies, shedding new light on many research areas including the physics of black holes and how clusters of galaxies evolve.
Call for CEDA Impact Stories: why this is essential and how you can help
The Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) is collecting impact stories from JASMIN users to help showcase their work and the vital role our services play to help environmental research happen.
UK scientists and engineers working to reduce food waste in developing countries
Scientists and engineers in the UK are working to use ideas from advanced space technology to improve the lives of farmers and reduce food waste in developing countries.
Award for the team behind the multi spacecraft mission, Cluster
Cluster, the world’s leading multi-spacecraft mission to study the structure and dynamics of Earth’s magnetic and plasma environments has been recognised by a major award.
Using space technology to tackle air pollution caused by farming
A team of UK scientists are applying technology developed for space research to help tackle the amount of ammonia that the farming industry releases into the atmosphere and try to make farming more efficient.
Astronomy, agri-rovers and education in the UK and China: Collaborations in two of the world’s most exciting space economies
Leading figures from UK and Chinese space research and industry are coming together to strengthen their growing relationship.
Put your skills to the test and get a job in the space industry
Looking to launch your career into orbit in the New Year? A UK space organisation is now hiring staff for its brand new satellite test facility.
RAL Space Director Chris Mutlow appointed Honorary Professor by the University of Leicester
STFC RAL Space Director, Dr Chris Mutlow, has been appointed as an Honorary Professor by the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Leicester Institute of Space & Earth Observation.
UK celebrates the successful landing of Mars InSight
A new mission to Mars, containing an on-board instrument developed and built by an interdisciplinary UK team that included STFC RAL Space, has successfully landed and will soon begin the first study of the planet’s internal activity.
Most detailed picture yet of UK's future climate
The UK’s most comprehensive picture yet of how the climate could change over the next century has been launched.
1,000 mile remote control desert test drive for Mars rover
Field trials of a UK built Mars rover took place in the Tabernas Desert in Spain last week. The rover was remote controlled by a team a thousand miles away at STFC RAL Space in Oxfordshire.
UK and Singapore collaborate on £10m project to develop next generation communications networks
Early demonstration of new quantum space technologies, through the latest collaboration between the UK and Singapore governments, could lead to more secure online activity for consumers in everything from financial transactions to online conversations.
UK dataset expertise informs Google’s new dataset search
Experts from UK Research and Innovation have contributed to a new search tool launched today by Google.
First UK National Satellite Test Facility contracts awarded for major space test equipment
Contracts worth £19 million have been awarded for the first of the major facilities for the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF).
Successful thermal tests for air quality monitoring instrument STM
This week we said goodbye to the Sentinel-5 Structural Thermal Model (STM), which has successfully completed thermal tests in our 3m thermal vacuum chamber.
Sunny outlook for UK science as new radar promises improved weather forecasting
An innovative cloud profiling radar and next generation infrared calibration sources are two exciting new projects led by RAL Space for which UK Space Agency funding was announced today.
Students from across the UK competed in the second UKSEDS Lunar Rover Competition at RAL Space
Seven student teams consisting of over 60 participants from across the UK reached the final stage of the Lunar Rover Competition, which saw them design, construct and test a lunar rover over a period of 9 months.
Third annual JASMIN User Conference
Scientists using the UK’s largest environmental super computer and data store gathered this week (27 June) to share their experiences of big data environmental science.
Cutting edge acoustic testing demonstration
Representatives from the European space community were invited to Harwell this week to hear about the latest progress towards the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), which will begin construction later this year.
Global data scientists meet in Harwell
Data scientists from across the world gather for PV2018, to address the opportunities in understanding vast datasets.
Earthquakes on Mars
A new mission to Mars, involving a team from the UK that include STFC RAL Space, has gone in to space today with the aim of being the first to study the heart of the Red Planet and measure ‘Marsquakes’ from its surface.
£3.5 million for STFC spin out using space technology to monitor the environment
STFC spin-out MIRICO has secured a £3.5 Million investment to support its technology for the instant, high precision measurement of greenhouse gases and pollutants in the environment.
UK supported climate satellite successfully launched into Earth orbit
Sentinel 3B successfully launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia on a Rockot on 25 April 2018 at 17:57 GMT.
UK astronomers contribute to 3D map of a billion stars
British astronomers working on the international space mission Gaia have contributed to a revolution in our understanding of the Milky Way with the release today of a new 3-D map of over one billion stars in our Galaxy.
ARIEL exoplanet mission selected as ESA’s next medium-class science mission
ARIEL, a mission to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve, has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as its next medium-class science mission, due for launch in 2028.
Earth observation instrument that will improve our understanding of the Earth’s climate delivered by UK team
A Broadband Radiometer instrument, designed and built in the UK with the aim of improving our understanding of the Earth’s climate, has been delivered to the EarthCARE mission team in Germany.
Upgrade to UK environmental science supercomputer will make it twice as capable
A major upgrade is being made to double the storage available in the UK’s leading environmental science supercomputer.
Sending robots where people fear to tread
A team of UK robotics experts have started a project that is going to investigate how Mars rover technology developed for space exploration could help land mine clearance experts and potentially save lives in the developing world.
James Webb Space Telescope one step closer to launch with move to California
It’s an exciting start to the New Year for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the teams involved in the mission, as it begins what will be its final set of tests.
Watching the weather in space
A team of UK space scientists have been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to take part in a new mission to better prepare Earth against the damaging effects of space weather.
Three craft-loving women swapped their sewing patterns and glue guns to take on an out-of-this-world job opportunity, and are now helping to make thermal blankets for satellites.
R&D 100 Award for pioneering work with environmental science data
Congratulations to the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA), based within STFC RAL Space, for their role in winning a prestigious R&D 100 award.
Major space conference celebrates the latest UK advancements in space science and Earth observation
Leading figures from the UK space industry gathered in Oxfordshire to discuss advances in space science and Earth observation, and to share tips on some of the industry’s key technology challenges as well as hearing major announcements.
MIRI on the right tracks at NASA Johnson
UK scientists and engineers are celebrating following the confirmation that their instrument has performed very well during the cryogenic testing for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at NASA Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas.
Dark Matter Day 2017
Happy Dark Matter Day! Today we’re marking the global hunt for dark matter, the huge part of the Universe that scientists’ calculations tell us exists, but that has never been observed.
Top RAL Space scientist awarded an Honorary Doctorate
RAL Space’s Professor Brian Ellison, world leading expert in millimetre and sub millimetre wave (terahertz) technologies, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University (OU).
UK to design new instrument to measure climate change and study star formation in space
UK scientists will play a key role in designing a new instrument to sit on board the ISS that will not only monitor the effects of climate change on the Earth’s atmosphere but will also help us to better understand the origins of stars and planets.
Bringing together UK excellence in satellite calibration
Two world-leading UK scientific institutions have today joined forces to strengthen their support for the nation’s rapidly-growing space sector.
Reducing pest risk through collaboration; PRISE visit to RAL Space
On Friday 29th September, the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) hosted key partners from the PRISE project; including a variety of organisations across the UK, Zambia, Kenya and Ghana as part of the UK Stakeholder workshop.
Cassini’s Grand Finale
Today Cassini, makes its final dive into Saturn’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will be crushed and vaporised by the high pressure and temperature levels having completed its incredible mission.
New UK-China agreement to increase space education
Leading space scientists from the UK and China have today signed a partnership agreement which looks to enrich each nation’s space education and space culture activities.
UK ramps up its satellite testing capabilities with new vacuum chamber
STFC RAL Space has successfully installed the second 5m diameter by 6m long thermal vacuum chamber, helping to ensure the UK remains a world leader for space technology.
The next steps for MIRI
Testing is underway for the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), the coldest instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
£100M boost for UK space sector to ensure UK is equipped to stay ahead of the competition
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson underlined the government’s commitment to the UK space sector today as he visited STFC’s RAL Space Facility, the future site of a new £100m state-of-the-art government-funded satellite facility.
8 Minutes: Combining Solar Physics with Contemporary Dance
RAL Space has collaborated with the Alexander Whitley Dance Company on a contemporary dance piece that combines science with art.
Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day
Celebrating all Women in Engineering and highlighting two of our RAL Space engineers.
UK students design their own volcano monitoring satellite using world class space science facilities
A team of students and staff from the University of Bristol (UoB) are designing a volcano monitoring satellite as part of the UoB satellite programme.
Chilbolton Observatory celebrates 50 years of searching the skies
One of the world’s most advanced weather radar research facilities, which is based in the UK, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week.
Happy Birthday JASMIN!
Over the last five years, JASMIN has enabled a vibrant and dynamic UK research community to do new and exciting science.
RAL Space GOES-R team celebrates a successful launch.
UK Space Weather expert wins prestigious international award
Professor Mike Hapgood, Head of Space Weather at STFC RAL Space, is this year’s recipient of the Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal for Space Weather and Space Climate.
The Agri-rover project uses space technology to help farmers in China and the UK.
STFC hosts new ESA lab for advanced manufacturing techniques and materials
The latest technical laboratory for the European Space Agency (ESA), inaugurated today by Director General Jan Woerner, will help to understand the capabilities of 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing techniques for future space missions.
Sentinel 3A was launched from Russia on 16th February
Sentinel-3B - First space flight hardware completes testing in R100
The first set of space flight hardware to have completed testing and calibration in RAL Space’s new assembly, integration and verification facilities in R100 has been completed and successfully delivered in June.
RAL Space to contribute to new UK National Space Propulsion Facility
STFC RAL Space have confirmed that they will be supporting the UK Space Agency with the operations of the new National Propulsion Test Facility.
Robotic arm technology to help reduce the environmental impact of farming
Robot technology designed for use on Mars could help improve crop yields on Earth.
JWST instruments are coming in from the cold
After being tested at extremely low temperatures for more than two months, the four instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope are preparing to come in from the cold.
STFC-supported scientists awarded for geophysics and astronomy work
A number of STFC-supported scientists are celebrating after being recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in its annual awards. The winners have all been acknowledged for their significant achievements in the fields of astronomy and geophysics
UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership
Agricultural science and technology is being increasingly driven by the global challenges of rising populations, rapid development of emerging economies and global shortages of land, water and energy.
Successfully sniffing Comet 67P
The Ptolemy laboratory on the Philae lander was co-designed and built by STFCs RAL Space in conjunction with the Open University.
New Space science laboratory offers 27.7m pound boost to UKs space industry
Today marks a giant leap for the UK space industry as 2 major new space facilities are opened at the UK Space Gateway in Oxfordshire including the new STFC RAL Space integration and test facility ‘R100’.
Professor Bruce Swinyard
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Professor Bruce Swinyard, who lost his battle with cancer on the 22nd of May 2015. Bruce joined RAL in 1987 and became the leading figure in RAL Space’s highly successful infrared astronomy programme.
New Director for RAL Space
Dr Christopher Mutlow today takes up the reins as Director of RAL Space at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Dr Mutlow brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role.
UK takes next steps in preparing for Space Weather events
Space weather has the potential to have a massive negative impact on space and Earth based systems that we take for granted, such as communications networks
Gold Medal for STFC supported Astronomer
January 12th 2015 – A number of STFC supported astronomers are celebrating after being honoured by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in their annual awards for their work in geophysics and astronomy. Leading the Field is Professor Mike Lockwood.
UK leads new international solar storm tracking initiative
1 October 2014 – UK scientists have unveiled a new £2.5 million (€3.2 million) project that will improve forecasts of solar storms, including their arrival time and impact on the Earth.
STFC researcher wins highly competitive Fellowship award
STFC RAL Space researcher Dr Elin McCormack today receives a Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship from the Royal Society, for her work on remote sensing of atmospheric electric field strength. She is one of just nine researchers selected.
Solar Storm Watch
There was a big eruption on the Sun late on Wednesday afternoon sending a large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) straight towards the Earth and also producing a bright solar flare.
UK Mini-laboratory catches up with double comet
Mini-laboratory developed and built at the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is due to rendezvous with a comet...
RAL Space team is Ground Control for newly launched UK satellite UKube-1
Teamwork Excellence Recognised by ESA
When a mission that was meant to last for two years manages to stay viable for 13, its fair to assume that there is a great team behind it. The Cluster team have been acknowledged for doing just that.
Professor Colin Pillinger
It was with profound sadness that we learned of the death of our friend and colleague, Professor Colin Pillinger.
Epic spacewalk will put us in the front row for near live video of the Earth
UK scientists use ALMA to spot supernova dust factory 160,000 light years away
UK scientists have used the ALMA telescope to help capture the remains of a recent supernova - or exploding star – that is brimming with freshly formed dust 160,000 light years from Earth.
Lift-off for Billion-Star Surveyor
UK scientists and engineers are celebrating today after the successful launch into space of the European Space Agencys GAIA mission that will revolutionise our understanding of the Universe.
Discovery of the Most Luminous Galaxy in the Local Universe
New observations from ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory using the U.K. led SPIRE instrument have pinned down what could be the the most luminous object in the local Universe.
From Mars, to volcanoes, ash clouds and chimneystacks - UK spin-out brings space technology to Earth
The Sun unleashes four large X-class solar flares
The Sun is approaching its peak of activity this year and is now littered with sunspot groups, which are the regions where the solar magnetic field emerges into its atmosphere providing the energy for that activity
Herschel finds hot gas on the menu for Milky Ways black hole
Astronomers using Europes Herschel Space Observatory have spotted a cloud of incredibly hot gas very close to the supermassive black hole that lies at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy.
Herschel - the mission that refused to die!
The Herschel Space Observatory launched in 2009 had a projected lifetime of around 3.5 years, after which its supply of on-board liquid Helium would expire.
Science Minister launches first ever Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering
The Science Minister David Willetts launched the first ever Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering at STFCs Rutherford Appleton Laboratory today. The apprenticeship has been developed by Loughborough College in association with the National Space Aca
UK celebrates completion of the most complex ground-based telescope ALMA
Scientists across the UK are today proudly celebrating the monumental achievement of the completion of ALMA - the most complex ground-based telescope in existence. The telescope is being officially opened during an inauguration ceremony in Chile.
Final ALMA Front End Delivered
Arrival of European component completes another phase in ALMA construction
The Last Receiver Front End Leaves its ALMA Mater
The RAL Space ALMA project team last week waved goodbye to the last ALMA front end to be assembled and tested in the European Front End Integration Centre (EuFEIC).
UK must plan now to defend itself against extreme solar weather events
In a report published today by the Royal Academy of Engineering, recommendations are made that the UK should plan now to mitigate the effects of a rare but potentially serious solar superstorm.
Government space weather advisor wins Royal Astronomical Society Service Award
Professor Mike Hapgood from RAL Space, an advisor to the government on the huge disruption solar storms can cause, has won the Royal Astronomical Society Service Award.
New Year Honours for Professor Richard Holdaway
Professor Richard Holdaway, Director of RAL Space, was awarded a CBE - Commander of the Order of the British Empire - in the New Years Honours List 2013; in recognition of his remarkable services to Science and Technology.
VISTA creates huge nine-gigapixel zoomable image of 84 million stars
A nine-gigapixel zoomable image of 84 million stars has been created by an international team of astronomers using the UK-built VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESOs Paranal Observatory. The image is so large that, if printed with the resolution of the
UK contributes 24 robotic arms in giant leap forward in near-infrared astronomy
A new high-tech instrument with 24 robotic arms has crossed the Atlantic from Edinburgh to a mountain top in Chile to address in more detail than ever before, some of the key questions surrounding the beginnings of the Universe, stars and galaxies.
New Satellite has begun taking the Earths Temperature
The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) 3 instrument, aboard the latest European weather satellite MSG-3, was successfully activated on 9th August and the first image produced the next day.
Tracking air pollution around the Olympics
not only are the Olympics providing stunning sporting results for the UK, they are also providing scientific data which will help improve air quality forecasting in the years ahead
Deflector Shields protect the Lunar Surface
Scientists from RAL Space at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have solved a lunar mystery and their results might lead the way to determining if the same mechanism could be artificially manipulated to create safe havens for future space explorers.
200th RAL Space instrument launched to help improve weather warnings
The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instrument, on board the Meteosat Second Generation 3 satellite, is the 200th RAL Space instrument to be launched into space.
Last Chance for a Century to Witness the Transit of Venus
For the last time until the year 2117, people around the world will have a chance to witness the transit of Venus as the planet passes directly between Earth and the Sun on Tuesday 5th June.
First instrument for the JWST is completed and handed over to NASA
After more than ten years of work by more than 200 engineers, the Mid InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), a camera so sensitive it could see a candle on one of Jupiters moons, has been declared ready for delivery by the European Space Agency and NASA.
Cassini sees new objects blazing trails in Saturn ring
Strange objects that are half a mile long and leave glittering trails behind them have been discovered punching through part of Saturns F ring, one of the more recently discovered rings around Saturn.
Solar Storm Warning in Nature
"We should prepare for a space weather event that might happen only once in 1,000 years". One of the arguments put forward by Professor Mike Hapgood, Chair of an expert group advising the Government on space weather risks.
VISTA produces spectacular panoramic view of the distant Universe
The most detailed infrared image ever taken of a region of space large enough to be representative of the distant Universe has been released by a team led by the University of Edinburgh. The image from the European Southern Observatorys (ESO) VISTA teles
Revolutionary navigation system for future Mars rovers
Physicists shed new light on supernova mystery
Physicists have a new theory on the mysterious mechanism that causes the explosion of massive, or core, stars.
Cosmic Vision: UK set to unlock the secrets of the Sun and search for dark energy
With funding from the UK Space Agency, space scientists and industry partners in the UK are set to benefit from two European Space Agency (ESA) projects - Euclid and Solar Orbiter.
ALMA opens its "eyes" wide and reveals its first images
LOFAR-UK observes an active Sun!
Over the last few days, our Sun has been very active. Apart from the dedicated solar instruments monitoring this activity, we have also been able to observe it with the LOFAR radio telescope at Chilbolton.
Threats from space - what the weather might have in store
A meeting of space scientists at the University of Leicester is examining the future of space science - and the threat posed to the Earth from space weather.
UK teams developing new ways of monitoring Earths climate from Space
Teams of scientists and engineers have been awarded contracts worth more than £500,000 to develop new satellite technologies for observing the Earth from Space.
Cosmic eye emerges from exhaustive tests in UK space lab
Instrument to launch on Hubble-successor to reveal the Universe over 10 billion years ago.
Sweet 16 for ALMA as first European antenna reaches the high site
The ALMA project, that will revolutionise our knowledge of the Universe, now has a sufficient number of antennas in place to produce its first science observations. The 16th antenna, joined antennas from other international ALMA partners on 27th July....
A twisted ring in the galactic centre
Third Annual ESA/NASA Planetary Protection Course
Third Annual ESA/NASA Planetary Protection Course
Worlds first live video feed of Earth from space
The worlds first high definition streaming video camera to be installed on the International Space Station
MIRI First Light
The flight model MIRI instrument opened its eyes for the first time in the Space Test Chamber at RAL.
First UK mini satellite CubeSat to include pocket space mission for the public
UK technology scans the skies for space hazards
UK space surveillance technology is being used in ESAs first co-ordinated space tracking campaign - part of a larger programme to provide up to date and accurate information on space hazards in Earths orbit.
Humankind sees the Sun as never before...
For the first time in history a stunning view of the whole Sun is visible to the world.
Giant radio telescope goes multi-national - first images from LOFAR
In the quest to discover more about our Universe and the birth of stars and galaxies, a new UK telescope - LOFAR - connected for the first time to others across Europe has delivered its first radio pictures
Planck unveils wonders of the universe
The first scientific results from Europes Planck spacecraft were released on 11th January 2011. The findings, focusing on the coldest objects in the Universe - both within our galaxy and also out to the most distant reaches of space ....
SOHO Space mission celebrates 15 years of revealing the Suns secrets
Today (2nd December 2010) marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) - the worlds largest and most successful solar space mission.
UK Company set to transform electronics for security scanners and cancer detection
A new UK company set to transform the use of terahertz electronics for applications in security imaging, telecommunications and cancer detection has won a prize in Research Councils UK (RCUK)
Technology at risk from Space Weather
After a prolonged period of solar inactivity, the sun will embark on a new 11 year solar cycle starting in 2012.
Herschel digs up the dirt on distant galaxies using cosmic zoom lenses
A UK-led team using the worlds largest space telescope, ESAs Herschel Space Observatory, has discovered a new way of locating a natural phenomenon that acts like a zoom lens, allowing astronomers to peer at galaxies in the distant and early Universe.
ALMA Front End Integration Centre (FEIC)
Ready to Start Production Phase
Spectacular image wows UK scientists
The UK-designed and built ESO VISTA telescope has taken a spectacular infrared image revealing an extraordinary landscape of glowing tendrils of gas, dark clouds and young stars 2700 light-years away
MIRI starts space adventure at STFCs Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
The pioneering camera and spectrometer for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the gigantic successor to the Hubble Telescope, is about to receive its first taste of the harsh conditions of space, without even leaving the UK.
Are we alone? Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell unveils 'ear on the universe'
Recipe for water: just add starlight
The European Space Agencys Herschel infrared space observatory has discovered that ultraviolet starlight is a key ingredient for making water in the atmosphere of some stars
Spectacular new 'Tarantula' image captured by VISTA
Astronomers have captured a spectacular new image in a region of our neighbouring galaxy known to have an abnormally high rate of star formation that reveals yet more details about its history and development
New generation security body scanner unveiled by ThruVision Systems
ThruVision Systems Ltd has officially launched the TS4, its new generation of compact security body scanner, at the Farnborough International Air Show in Hampshire.
STFC builds revolutionary radiation monitors for ESA
STFCs reputation for the development of world class space science instrumentation and high performance detector systems has led to the award of a significant contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to STFC and Imperial College London
Herschel reveals details of distant galaxies and quasars
Amazing new data captured by ESA's Herschel Space Observatory – carrying the largest mirror ever launched into space - have just been publicly released, allowing the Worlds astronomers to share in the SPIRE instrument's observations of distant galaxies.
UK-designed and built VISTA telescope views the Sculptor Galaxy
Sculptor Galaxy captured by European Southern Observatory VISTA telescope as part of its first major observational campaigns provides new information on the history and development of the galaxy.
Are we alone? New radio telescope 'to potentially search for alien intelligence'
Herschel and Planck clock up one year in Space
At 13.12 GMT on 14 May 2009, an Ariane 5 rocket carrying two brand new space telescopes launched into space.
Clearest ever pictures of the Sun returned from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
UK scientists are celebrating after the return of the first images from NASAs Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) mission.
Hubble's successor one step closer to completion
A working replica of MIRI – the pioneering camera and spectrometer for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) - has just been shipped from the STFCs Rutherford Appleton Laboratory to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre.
Planck space observatory unveils the coldest regions of our galaxy
Giant filaments of cold dust stretching through the coldest regions of our Galaxy are revealed in new images, released today (17th March), from ESAs Planck satellite.
Environmental testing for the cryogenic harness on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
Environmental Testing for the Cryogenic Harness on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)