Durham University: Tackling carbon emissions from space

Our Centre for Advanced Instrumentation (CfAI) is working with other businesses and fellow researchers to develop high-resolution thermal infrared space telescopes to monitor the energy efficiency of buildings around the world.

It’s hoped the telescopes could be a powerful tool for making sure that governments, companies and even individuals are on track to meet internationally agreed carbon emission goals.

Small satellites
The team will study how the data can be used and develop prototypes for an innovative unfolding telescope.

This would be part of a constellation of small satellites designed to accurately produce thermal images of buildings and infrastructure.

The CfAI is also part of a second project, involving fellow researchers and businesses, to receive funding to replace the existing low-speed radio frequency transceiver used in CubeSats – small satellites weighing between one and ten kilogrammes.

The aim is to replace these transceivers with high-speed, light weight and lower power free-space optical transceivers.

Space science missions
Scientists hope this will have an effect on our approach to communications constellations – where satellites work together – and space science missions.

By the end of this project, a test-bed design will have been developed together with a mission design study for future testing of the system in space.

Separately, the CfAI is involved in some of the world’s biggest and most prestigious telescope projects.

This includes making the optics for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the replacement for the Hubble Telescope, which is due to launch in December.

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