UK Credit

Glasgow students win £600,000 climate satellite design competition

The 10 students designed a satellite to analyze shorelines and coastal vegetation to help scientists and policy makers understand the impact of climate change on coastal regions, as part of the Nanosat design competition, organized by the ‘British Space Agency and the Department for Transport.

Glasgow’s winning team, named OirthirSAT, beat more than 40 teams from across the UK, aged between 16 and 37, with judges praising their entry for identifying a clear way to tackle climate change and test new technologies.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

With satellite launches set to begin from the ground this year, there’s no better time to support the next generation of space experts in developing satellites to support our mission against climate change.

My congratulations go out to OirthirSAT and everyone shortlisted for their hard work throughout this competition, and I applaud the innovation that all teams have shown throughout.

The UK is set to become the first country in Europe to host small satellite launches in 2022, building on the UK small satellite industry and creating highly skilled jobs across the country. It will also help UK scientists use space technology to help tackle global challenges, including climate change.

Dr Paul Bate, Director General of the UK Space Agency, said:

Satellite technology plays a crucial role in monitoring our climate and it’s fantastic to see so many innovative ideas to help solve the most pressing problem facing our planet. My congratulations go to the winners from the University of Glasgow for their excellent design.

The countdown to the launch of the first satellite from UK soil has begun and it will be a historic year for our space sector. Being the first country in Europe to offer the launch will further boost our satellite industry, creating hundreds of new jobs across the UK.

The Nanosat design competition opened in November 2021, with aspiring space scientists invited to design a small satellite that can be launched from the UK to help illuminate solutions to climate change.

Five teams were selected from the initial applications to advance to the final stage, which included a four-month mentorship program with experts from the space sector. The OirthirSAT team was announced as the big winner at a ceremony with UK Space Agency CEO Dr Paul Bate and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer at the Farnborough International Airshow today. today (Friday 22 July 2022).

Freya Muir, PhD student at the University of Glasgow on the OirthirSAT team, said:

We are really proud to have won the competition and to have our hard work recognized by the industry.

It’s an incredible opportunity, and it’s extremely exciting to be able to develop our winning design to help protect the coast from climate change.

Members of the OirthirSAT team, University of Glasgow, with European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer at the Farnborough International Airshow. Credit: British Space Agency

The other four finalists came from Reliance Precision Engineering, Huddersfield, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, the University of Kent and the University of Southampton.

The OirthirSAT team in Glasgow will use the prize money to build their satellite with continued support from competition mentors, to help develop their proposal from design to build, in preparation for launch from the UK in the years to come.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:

Kudos to the University of Glasgow students behind this innovative satellite design. I can’t wait to see how this UK government funding will help bring their fantastic ideas to life.

With satellites playing an increasingly important role in monitoring and combating climate change, it is inspiring to see the next generation of Scottish scientists exploring new ways in which space technology can help us understand our environment.

The Scottish space sector is booming and now accounts for around a fifth (18%) of the UK space workforce, according to the latest figures. Scotland will also host the UK’s first vertical launches of small satellites next year, from the spaceports of SaxaVord and Sutherland.

Upgrading the space sector is a key priority for the UK Space Agency and there are now 1,293 space organizations located across the UK. Spaceports are expected to further increase jobs in the coming years, alongside the growth of regional space clusters, international investment, and emerging technologies such as in-space manufacturing and debris disposal.

Further information :

Winner team :

  • Joe Gibbs, PhD, Aerospace Science
  • Diego Hidalgo De Las Heras, MEng Aeronautical Engineering
  • Georgios Tita, MEng Electronics and Electrical Engineering
  • Freya Muir, PhD in Geography and Earth Sciences (coastal modelling)
  • Theodoros Serghiou, MEng Electronics and Electrical Engineering
  • Ignacio Serrano Martín-Sacristán, BEng Aerospace Engineering
  • Gregor MacAskill, MEng Aeronautical Engineering
  • Civan Doǧan, IT
  • Nektarios Chari, MEng Mechanical Engineering
  • Natalia Ibagón Sánchez, MSc Robotics and AI

The contest judges:

  • Andrew Ratcliffe, Chief Engineer at the UK Space Agency
  • Dr Suzie Imber, Associate Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester
  • Anita Bernie, Managing Director, MDA UK
  • Liz Seward, Head of Space Strategy, BAE Systems
  • Professor John Remedios, Director of the National Center for Earth Observation (NCEO) housed within the Earth Observation Science Group at the University of Leicester
  • Dr. Merritt Moore, quantum physicist and professional ballerina
  • Professor Mark Maslin, Professor of Earth System Science, University College London