Scottish satellite firm proposes Earth sensor using ‘cold atoms’


thumbnail_057-IMG_4610The Glasgow-based firm, which pioneered the CubeSat, is working with Teledyne e2v and researchers at the University of Birmingham on the project which is funded by Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency.

The aim is to use quantum technology to create ultra-sensitive ‘cold atoms’ which can function in sensors in space.

The quantum technology describes processes which use atoms cooled close to absolute zero making them ultra-sensitive and capable of mapping tiny changes in the strength of gravity across the surface of the earth.

Trevor Cross, ‎chief technology officer at Teledyne e2v, commented:

“Quantum technology is giving us new abilities in a wide range of markets and applications.”

Laboratory experiments have shown cold atoms can be used as ultra-sensitive sensors capable of mapping tiny changes in the strength of gravity across the earth’s surface.

That will now be replicated in space through the Clyde Space-Teledyne e2v partnership with the Cold Atom Space Payload (CASPA) mission, the world’s first free-flying on-orbit demonstration for cold atom based science missions. It paves the way for cold atom instruments to be used in space.

Craig Clark, Clyde Space CEO, said:

“We will create a new wave of space applications”.

thumbnail_CASPA 6UApplications for instruments based on this technology include more accurate monitoring of changes in polar ice mass, ocean currents and sea level, the ability to monitor underground water resources  and discover new underground natural resource deposits which are currently not detectable.

Other project partners include Gooch & Housego, XCAM, Covesion and the University of Southampton.


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