The space sector is currently experiencing a renaissance. It has never been cheaper and easier to launch spacecraft and the technology on-board is advancing rapidly. Whether satellites in orbit or spacecraft for exploration, businesses and countries are investing. Governments, including in the UK, are turning their attention to the risks and rewards that may exist far-off in the skies above us.
There has never been a better time for Space @ Oxford, a network that is bringing together research into space from across the collegiate University.
‘Oxford has an incredibly innovative, broad and knowledgeable research capability in the space sector,’ says Dr Simon Jackman, Senior Innovation Fellow. ‘From observational astrophysics, to Earth observation, remote sensing and satellite imagery, through to the building of spacecraft and robotic rovers, the University is very strong within the physical and life sciences. We also have a particular strength here in the social sciences, looking at the business and global governance of space, giving us an edge on solving practical challenges. The network has also been successful in building partnerships with external agencies, including the Satellite Applications Catapult and the European Space Agency.
‘The Space @ Oxford network brings this all together – work is going on all over the University and the network allows us to join up the dots.’
Space @ Oxford Week, beginning from Monday 22 November, is an opportunity for the network to showcase its research strengths and engage with other academics, as well as to share their work with external partners and the public. Webinars on topics as diverse as cosmology and astrophysics, through the commercialisation of space and international policy, are open to everyone who is interested. Attendance is free and registration is open online.
‘Space-based research at Oxford covers a huge range of activities from designing and building scientific instruments to operate in space to data analysis that then feeds into policy advice,’ says Neil Bowles, Professor of Planetary Science and Chair of Space @ Oxford. ‘The study of space and its related areas can answer many of the questions we have about the world, as well as help us find solutions to our most pressing issues, such as climate change.
‘Earth observation can offer a unique perspective on our planet and new developments in lower cost, smaller and more capable spacecraft to make targeted scientific observations of a diverse range of issues from climate to biodiversity to energy use. Planetary science and exploration from orbiters, entry probes and landers are helping us to answer fundamental question on the origin and evolution of planets in our Solar System and the next generation of space-based telescopes will be studying planets around other stars and the earliest structures of the Universe.
‘Oxford has significant roles in all these areas and hopefully this week will give people a sense of the breadth of our research, how it is contributing to answering these major questions and how can they get more involved.’
To find out more about Space @ Oxford and to register to attend any of the Space @ Oxford Week webinars, visit the Space @ Oxford website or get in touch with Connor D’Arcy, Space @ Week coordinator.