The project is investigating the production of a multispectral imaging (MSI) device which is a fraction of the size of conventional instruments and could be installed in nanosatellites.

The study has received £719,000 as one of seven successful projects to secure funding from the UK Space Agency’s (UKSA) Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI).

Researchers from Strathclyde’s Department of Physics are working with partners, led by product design company Wideblue, to produce MSI technology with a compact payload. It will be designed, built and then tested by taking images during a flight attached to a drone.

A commercial MSI satellite can be up to 5.7mx2.5mx2.5mm and 2.8 tonnes. The new device could fit on a more affordable 4kg satellite of 10cmx10cmx30cm size, and would orbit around 500km above Earth.

The project’s partners also include two Strathclyde-based research centres, the Scottish Centre for Excellence in Satellite Applications and the Centre for Signal and Image Processing.

Dr Daniel Oi, physics lecturer and lead researcher, said: “Because of the novel way it operates, this instrument could open up ways of doing Earth observation which are different from conventional operations.

“As nanosatellites are smaller, they don’t have the capacity to take a lot of data, process it and communicate it. The technology we are developing allows us to reduce the amount of data collected, with sensitivity to specific events or targets, and will enable more efficient monitoring of Earth.

“Instead of a small number of very expensive MSI satellites, our instrument could be mounted on many nanosatellites to monitor the globe continuously. No satellite can be in two places at once, so operating in this way can enable the right data to be collected at the right time.”

“The early results of our research have been highly promising and the project is part of a significant and growing space industry in Scotland.”



University of Strathclyde