UK’s Participation in Global Missions Guaranteed Through New Space Projects Funding

UK scientists and engineers are set to take on a significant role in international space missions to the Moon, Mars, and Venus, thanks to a £7.4 million funding boost from the UK Space Agency. This investment will propel progress on projects including lunar and Martian exploration, and the investigation of Venus.

One of the funded projects involves the Space Science and Exploration Bilateral Programme, in which Royal Holloway will create software for the Indian Space Agency’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. This technology is aimed at identifying ice beneath the surface of the Moon’s south pole. The University of Leicester will head another project, focusing on the development of a Raman spectroscopy instrument for iSpace’s commercial rover and lander missions. The objective of the project is to enhance understanding of water ice on the Moon, with the potential of utilizing this resource for extended lunar exploration.

Further projects receiving funding involve collaboration between the Open University and the universities of Sussex, Aberdeen, and Cambridge, and major space agencies such as NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The funding will support research and development in critical areas of space science and exploration technology, including detector hardware, pipeline processing, and optics and spectroscopy.

This announcement comes during the Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) held in Singapore, which showcases Asia’s burgeoning space sector and opportunities for global collaboration. The UK’s participation in the GSTC and its support for these space exploration projects underscore the international collaboration strategy outlined in the National Space Strategy.

The funded projects include the Chandrayaan-2 and Shukrayaan, which has received £306,000 to develop software for detecting lunar south pole sub-surface ice. The Star-X project, in collaboration with NASA, has been granted £650,000 to study the formation of the Universe. The FIR missions project, also in partnership with NASA, has received £1.1 million to create technology for a probe mission to study the formation of planetary systems and the evolution of galaxies.

Other funded projects include the development of an instrument for a Mars rover that will study water cycle, chemistry, and habitability (HABIT), the development of high-performance detectors for the Mars multispectral and stereo imager for the International Mars Ice Mapper mission (I-MIM), and a mission to develop a precision radiometer to measure spectral distortions in the Universe’s cosmic microwave background (CosmoCube).

Overall, these projects represent a significant step for UK space science and exploration, fostering international collaboration and contributing to our understanding of the Moon, Mars, and Venus.

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