Institute Seminars

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Better weather in Scotland


Speaker: Peter Platzer

Time: 1400 hrs

Location: Royal College building, RC6.69

Nanosatellites may not be able to keep it from raining in Scotland, but they can give forecasters powerful new data that can make incorrect weather predictions a thing of the past.  Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire Global, presents how its advanced satellite network, soon consisting of 100+ nanosatellites equipped with groundbreaking sensor-technology and up to 50 ground-stations, forms the most resilient data collection and analytics platform in the world. Spire's constellation of nanosatellites will enable smarter forecasting by generating 10,000 weather-related readings per day - such as temperature, pressure, and moisture - producing almost ten times more data than today's weather satellites.  Platzer will talk about the evolution of the company, its mission to collect data from ¾ of the Earth neglected by traditional remote sensing and the implications that such data can have on industries as diverse as agriculture, mining, construction, communications and retail trade. Spire is a global organization, with teams in San Francisco, Singapore, and Glasgow to serve customers in their own time zones and to develop next generation technology.

RAPID: Disaster relief through collaboration science and commerce


Speaker: Steve Lee

Time: 1400 hrs

Location: James Weir Building, 5.09a 

Steve Lee, CEO & founder of Stevenson Astrosat, will present the new RAPID system for disaster preparedness and recovery as part of their IPSP UK Space Agency project. The overall concept, business and use of Space Technologies will be described as well as opportunities for collaboration.


UKube-1; from concept to operations


Speaker: Steve Greenland

Time: 1400 hrs

Location: James Weir Building, 5.09a 

The United Kingdom Universal Bus Experiment (UKube) is a proposed as a national programme to stimulate nano-spacecraft development within the UK. UKube-1, launched in July 2014, is a one year precursor mission using a 3U CubeSat form factor and carrying a number of science and technology payloads into space. The mission was co-financed by Clyde Space and the UK Space Agency following a TSB Knowledge Transfer scheme and involved over 25 groups from across the UK, with self-funded payloads selected through an open competition of ideas.

The intention for UKube-1 has been to pioneer collaboration between the newly formed UK Space Agency, industry and academia, as the pilot for a national CubeSat programme. An independent review found UKube-1 had fulfilled the majority of objectives before meeting the launch pad. 

The relatively low cost, largely off-the-shelf, and rapid turnaround of CubeSat missions means that the UKube programme has the opportunity to drive the development of innovative technologies, carry out new space research quickly and efficiently, promote economic growth, offer great opportunities for hands-on training for the next generation of the UK space workforce, and promote education and outreach in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects.

The presentation will give an overview of the UKube-1 mission, through concept, development and now operation; highlighting some of the key challanges along the way and potential future direction.


Stardust Seminar


Speaker: Tiago Soares

Time: 1000 hrs

Location: James Weir Building, 6th floor 

Reaching for the sky leaves footprints on the Earth's environment. What price is paid by our terrestrial and orbital environments for the exploration and exploitation of space? How might environmental impacts be reduced in the future? With the Clean Space initiative, ESA will devote increasing attention to the environmental impacts of its activities, both on Earth and in space.

Clean technologies for space are being defined by ESA as those which contribute to the reduction of the environmental impact of space programmes, taking into account the overall life-cycle and the management of residual waste and pollution resulting from space activities, both in the terrestrial eco-sphere and in space.

The term clean technologies encompasses both green technologies to mitigate the environmental impacts of space programmes on Earth and space technologies to reduce the impact of ESA missions on the space debris environment (in terms of mitigation and remediation).

This talk will introduce the ESA Clean Space initiative and will give an overview of the activities within the four key branches of the Clean Space programme: Eco-design, green technologies, space debris mitigation, technologies for space debris remediation.

The Application of Inverse Simulation to Planetary Rovers


Speaker: Dr Kevin Worrall

Time: 1100 hrs

Location: James Weir Building, Room 5.09a

This presentation discusses the application of Inverse Simulation to the control of a mobile robot. The implementation of this technique for motion control has been found to provide highly accurate trajectory tracking. Inverse Simulation has been mainly used within aerospace engineering, namely helicopters, however further applications have been presented including as a control methodology for Autonomous Underwater vehicle control. A further application is the validation of mathematical models, where real system state data is applied to an Inverse Simulation.

The particular focus of this presentation is the use of Inverse Simulation as a control system for a wheeled mobile robot. There are many situations where the desired path of a mobile robot is known e.g. planetary rover navigation, factory or warehouse floor, bomb disposal. Since the desired path is known within these situations an Inverse Simulation can generate a series of control signals based on the time history of the desired response. This approach will achieve greater control over the position and orientation of the mobile robot. Inverse Simulation provides a means of generating the required control signals with no need for controller tuning. The use of Inverse Simulation is suitable in cases where the cost of the mobile robot or actuators is high, desired drive requirements need to be met or where tight tolerances on the trajectory are to be achieved.


An Introduction to the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications


Speaker: Dr Hina Bacai

Time: 1100 hrs

Location: James Weir Building, Room 604

The Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications will engage with innovative Scottish small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), large companies and the public sector to grow commercial Satellite Applications. The Centre will engage with a range of sectors including Energy, Maritime, Transport and Future Cities. It will exist to help stimulate growth of satellite applications and the economy, both in Scotland, and across the UK.

This Centre is hosted within the new Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), a regional hub to transform the processes through which academics, industry and the public sector collaborate.

Dr Hina Bacai, Business Development Manager at the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SoXSA), will give an introduction to the SoXSA and describe the work being done to develop programmes of work between academics, businesses and the user community of satellite applications.



New Spacecraft Mission Architectures and the Challenges for Guidance, Navigation and Control


Speaker: Dr Sven Erb

Time: 1200 hrs

Location: Colville Building, Room 429

In the last few years the European Space community witnessed two innovations that will shape the way we design our telecommunication and Earth observation satellites for years to come. The first was the commercial break-through of electric propulsion technology for orbit raising, the second was the launch of the ESA Cleanspace Initiative and the push for debris mitigation & removal.

Dr. Sven Erb from the Guidance, Navigation and Control section of the European Space Agency will provide an introduction into the key benefits of using electric propulsion on-board telecommunication and navigation satellites. The presentation will identify drivers for the optimization of mission profiles as well as spacecraft designs. Some practical guidelines on applicable constraints and limiting factors will be given.

Further, the presenter will address the challenges arising from the new requirements to mitigate and remove orbital debris. In the same way as it is on ground, this calls for dedicated efforts to reduce the amount of orbital debris through smart spacecraft design, dedicated de-orbitation at the end of life or active removal of debris from orbit. The latter suggests missions to rendezvous with and capture large orbital debris. Close proximity rendezvous with completely uncooperative targets and their active removal from orbit require new spacecraft architectures with sensors and actuators that are able to ensure safe operation and high reliability in order to minimize the risk of mission failure or generation of additional debris.

Is Fish Behaviour Better in Schools?


Speaker: Dr Robert Batty

Time: 1130 hrs

Location: Colville Building, Room 429

The arms race between predator and prey has led to the evolution of the sensory capabilities and behaviour that fish exhibit today.  What are the sensory cues that trigger predator evasion behaviour and how do escape responses differ when fish are in a school?  We now have a good, but incomplete, understanding of the predator evasion process and can even apply this knowledge to understanding the risk of collision with tidal stream turbines.  Other, gaseous, anti-predator behaviour and possible communication between fish will be discussed.

Creating an Offshore Wind Atlas with Space-Based Remote Sensing


Speaker: Dr Matt Stickland

Time: 1400 hrs

Location: Livingston Tower, Room 711

Wind Resource data is a key component for all wind energy projects. As the deadline for the EU's promised 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 fast approaches, offshore wind is the key area of expansion for most EU member states in order to meet their renewable energy obligations. However, there remain significant challenges ahead, not the least of which is the availability of good quality offshore wind speed data to facilitate better project planning, accurate yield prediction, and a fundamentally better understanding of the offshore working environment. Whilst the erection and data acquisition from a meteorological mast on shore is expensive the creation of a similar device off shore can be an order of magnitude more expensive with approximately £10m considered common.

This presentation will present the EU, FP7 funded, NORSEWInD project which was established in 2008 in order to create a wind resource atlas in focus areas of the North, Baltic and Irish seas.  The methodology developed by the NORSEWInD consortium was to create the wind atlas from remote sensing satellite data which is available in the public domain coupled with the measurement of the offshore boundary layer by LiDAR and mesoscale modelling for long term wind speed resource prediction.

Space System Resilience and Space Traffic Control - Avoiding the Space Debris Apocalypse


Speaker: Dr Stuart Eves, Airbus Defence and Space

Time: 1400 hrs

Location: John Anderson Building, Room 505

The presentation will briefly consider the drivers towards space traffic control, and the improved monitoring capabilities that would be needed to deliver it. It will then focus on a series of technical measures that might be taken to deliver these improved monitoring capabilities. The envisaged technical measures will include modifications to satellite designs and changes to satellite operational procedures, as well as alterations to the space surveillance network.  In the case of the latter, both ground-based and space-based capabilities will be addressed.

Osteopenia in Space


Speaker: Dr Sylvie Coupaud, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde

Time: 1100 hrs

Location: Graham Hills Building, Room 511

Osteopenia, a health condition of the skeletal system that can result from trauma, disease or the natural ageing process, if untreated, can progress until there is a significant increase in the risk of fragility fractures in the weakened bones (osteoporosis). Postmenopausal osteoporosis is triggered by hormonal changes, but another form (disuse osteoporosis) affects both men and women. Related to bone’s remarkable ability to adapt to its mechanical loading history, this disuse-related bone loss follows from reduced stimulus to the weight-bearing bones. Extreme cases are seen in spinal cord injury, but the condition can also affect astronauts exposed to a weightless environment during long-duration space missions. 

Spinal cord injury (and bedrest) studies allow research into disuse osteoporosis here on Earth, and help us better understand the bone loss experienced by astronauts during space missions. Using rehabilitation engineering and quantitative imaging techniques, we can investigate the effects of physical interventions on the musculoskeletal system in spinal cord injured patients. Through a strong collaboration with the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit in Glasgow, longitudinal and interventional patient studies provide a unique opportunity to quantify bone’s in vivo responses to changes in their mechanical loading. Rehabilitation techniques with the potential to reintroduce appropriate mechanical stimulus to counteract the negative effects of disuse osteoporosis include electrically-stimulated exercise, robot-assisted stepping and gait training, and whole body vibration therapy.

Sailing in space: novel solar sail mission concepts for Earth applications


Speaker: Dr Jeannette Heiligers, University of Strathclyde

Time: 1100 hrs

Location: TBD

Solar sail technology is rapidly gaining momentum after recent successes such as JAXA’s IKAROS mission and NASA’s NanoSail-D2 mission. Research in the field is flourishing and new solar sail initiatives are scheduled for the future: NASA’s Sunjammer mission, which will be propelled by a 40x40 m2 sail, is scheduled for launch early 2015. By exploiting the radiation pressure generated by solar photons reflecting off a large, highly reflective sail to produce a thrust force, solar sails are not constrained by propellant mass. This gives them their huge potential.

This presentation will highlight this potential by introducing a few novel mission concepts that significantly benefit from - or are even enabled by - solar sail technology. These include geostationary orbits that hover above the traditional, overcrowded GEO to guarantee future geostationary slots; a pole-sitter mission where a satellite is stationary above the North or South Pole for ice-pack monitoring, arctic shipping guidance and high-latitude telecommunications; and finally, the use of solar sails to hover between the Earth and Sun to increase the warning time for solar storms that can have detrimental effects on vital assets on ground and in space, e.g. disruptions in radio transmissions, destruction of power grids and damage to Earth-orbiting satellites. All in all, this presentation will demonstrate how solar sails can contribute to a range of Earth applications, to better understand our own planet and to increase space situational awareness.

Ocean Colour Remote Sensing: from Muddy Waters to the Ocean Blues


Speaker: Dr David McKee, Department of Physics, University of Strathclyde

Time: 1100 hrs

Location: Room R2.15 Royal College Building

Oceans contribute to climate regulation through heat transport and carbon cycle components. They are also an essential natural resource with massive economic impact. Increased awareness of the role in climate control, the effects of exploitation activities and the introduction of local and international legislation to protect the oceans has brought renewed focus to developing monitoring capabilities. Ocean colour remote sensing (OCRS) provides a unique window onto biogeochemical processes occurring in surface layers of the ocean. A sequence of satellite OCRS sensors providing almost daily global coverage over a 15 year period has provided a valuable time series that illustrates the complex interplay between physical and biological processes in the ocean. However, there are significant limitations in the quality of OCRS data products, particularly for optically complex coastal waters. Improving data quality and quantifying uncertainties for these products is a major research theme for the Marine Optics and Remote Sensing Group at the University of Strathclyde. In this talk I will discuss current capabilities and limitations of OCRS and suggest areas for future development, particularly the potential for development of constellations of Earth observing Cubesats. 

Adaptive Control and Coordination of Multi-Agent Dynamic Systems


Speaker: Prof Veysel Gazi, İstanbul Kemerburgaz Üniversitesi

Time: 1400 hrs

Location: Room 227 Lord Hope Building

This talk considers two problems which are popular in the multi-agent dynamic systems literature - the formation control and distributed output agreement problems. In the formation control problem a group of agents is required to form and maintain a predefined geometric shape (a formation), whereas in the distributed output agreement problem the agent outputs need to globally agree using only local information. We consider a class of multi-agent dynamic systems with uncertain agent dynamics and/or local disturbances. In the first part of the talk we will discuss an intelligent (function approximation based) adaptive control strategy for solving the above problems. A direct adaptive controller is designed based on Takagi-Sugeno fuzzy systems. The controller is also augmented with bounding and sliding mode control terms in order to achieve robustness and to guarantee stability. Moreover, the high order derivatives of the agent output errors are estimated using high gain observers. Various formation maneuvers are also considered. The developed control approach can be successfully used to solve both of the considered problems despite the agent uncertainties. In the second part of the talk we will discuss an alternative approach based on output regulation techniques and adaptive internal models to solve the considered formation control and distributed output agreement problems.

Events info

The institute's seminar program is inter-disciplinary and research led, based around the theme of space systems engineering. The seminars serve to facilitate research and knowledge exchange within academia and industry.

Future Seminars:

14 May 2015 Better weather in Scotland” – Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire

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