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Scientists join forces to push Britain forward in new space race – University of Reading

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Scientists join forces to push Britain forward in new space race

Release Date 05 July 2013

The University of Reading is a hub for UK space expertise

Experts in satellite monitoring of the Earth's climate and ecosystem are to pool their talent to observe changes on the planet.

Scientists at the Universities of Surrey and Reading will work with colleagues at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the new collaboration called Global Satellite Sensing (GLOSS) - a world leading Centre of Excellence to monitor changes to the Earth, its ecosystem and climate.

Working together with the Satellite Applications Catapult, the Centre aims to contribute to the UK Government's drive to capture at least 10% of the predicted global space market of $400bn by 2030.

The aim is to develop ways of using the very latest advances in the new generation of small, lightweight and highly innovative satellites, being developed in the UK.

GLOSS will provide new satellite data services for meteorological purposes and use in disaster scenarios, as well as proving a wide range of services to commercial sectors, including energy resource management, urban and environmental monitoring, security and insurance industries.

Keith Robson, Director Enterprise and Growth at the University of Surrey, said: "Bringing these world-leading research capabilities together within a single centre of excellence provides the UK with an unrivalled ability to provide expertise across a range of areas.

"This includes everything from developing new low cost sensors, designing groups of small satellites that can work together which are called ‘swarms', in-orbit calibration systems, data assimilation, data processing and visualisation.

"The Centre's aim is to ensure the UK plays a key role in the exploitation of new sophisticated Earth Observation services which will be in increasing demand as the cost of putting satellites into orbit falls dramatically over the next decade."

Professor Robert Gurney, Director of Space and Earth Observation at the University of Reading, which has the largest research capability in weather and climate science and earth observation of any university in Europe, said: "This centre provides a unique opportunity for scientists and engineers to work collaboratively on research with the potential to deliver breakthrough technologies and applications for a changing planet.

"British scientists are among the best in the world at using data from satellites to provide vital information about weather and climate. By helping to develop the next generation of satellite technology, this collaboration will help to expand the range of information available to businesses and industry, such as real-time data. Such crucial and affordable information will help to give British businesses the cutting edge, boosting innovation and economic growth."

Stuart Martin, CEO at the Satellite Applications Catapult, added: "We are excited to be working with the academic community in this new initiative. This new Centre of Excellence will provide important links to a wide range of sectors including water, oil and gas, financial services, transport and telecom."


For more information please contact Pete Castle at the University of Reading press office on +44 (0)118 378 7391 or

Notes to Editors

The Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey is a world leading centre for small satellite engineering with expertise that includes: spacecraft engineering; data assimilation; instrumentation and sensor development for Earth observation; radar and optical remote sensing and applications, and technologies for atmospheric monitoring.  Pioneering work is also being carried out in the exploitation of all-weather, cloud penetrating Synthetic Aperture Radar technologies and data interpretation. Through its commercial partners, the University has provided the UK with a unique capability for global sensing at high temporal resolution, which is opening up new and revolutionary services.


The University of Reading is internationally renowned for its research and training in weather, climate, physical oceanography and solar-terrestrial physics, and its work plays a vital role in the improvement of weather forecasting, climate modelling and related areas. It hosts two centres on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the National Centre for Earth Observation and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) Climate in addition to members of the Met Office Hadley Centre. The Department of Meteorology was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for ‘Weather and Climate Science' in 2005. More recently it was one of only twelve university departments to be awarded a prestigious Regius Professorship by HM the Queen, recognising its global leadership and expertise in meteorology, earth observation and climate sciences.


The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is an independent, UK applied science laboratory belonging to a global network of measurement institutes providing it the authority to establish and disseminate SI traceability. Its role is to use science and technology to respond to economic and social challenges of government and businesses, translating scientific research to improve quality of life, introduce and improve products and processes, and increase commercial competitive advantage.

The Satellite Applications Catapult is one of a network of UK technology and innovation centres which aim to drive economic growth through commercialisation of research.


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