Scottish nanosatellites to accelerate data collection, processing

scottish nanosatellites spire global
© iStock/ gbs097

Two Scottish nanosatellites built in Glasgow have been launched, with the goal of speeding up data collection and processing in space.

Data collected by satellites can be slow to process and analyse, with high traffic volumes and large file sizes contributing to slow download speeds. The Scottish nanosatellites, to be operated by data analytics firm Spire Global under the oversight of the UK Space Agency, will be able to collate and process precise selections of data from other, larger satellites; meaning data can be transmitted to Earth at increased speeds and through less congested bandwidth.

UK Space Agency Chief Executive Graham Turnock said: “Over the past five years, Glasgow has become the best place in Europe to build these innovative, small satellites, with Spire Global alone manufacturing more than 100 on the Clyde. These new Glaswegian nanosatellites were launched from Russia, but we are working hard to ensure that in future we can design, build, test, launch and manage satellites as part of the UK government’s modern Industrial Strategy. We are also a leading member of the European Space Agency which delivers significant economic benefits back to businesses in the UK.”

The Scottish nanosatellites were developed under the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) Pioneer Programme administered by the European Space Agency; the programme allocates investment and support to research and development projects to enable them to be brought to market. Khalil Kably, Pioneer Programme Manager for the European Space Agency, said: “The whole idea of the Pioneer Programme is to give European and Canadian industries access to space, rapidly and at low cost. As soon as they have an innovative idea, such as supercomputing by Spire here, we want people to be able to try it in orbit. It’s the ability to go from a new idea to market very quickly, through in-orbit validation.”

Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire Global, said: “We see these parallel supercomputing scalable devices as a crucially important next step for a new level of accuracy and timeliness in space data analytics. The UK Space Agency and ESA have been extremely forward-looking and supportive of Spire’s innovative approach to deploying space technology to solve problems here on Earth.”

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