The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded Roke Manor Research Ltd. and its partners, the University of Strathclyde (the project lead) and SCISYS, a contract to support the SysNova initiative for the development of new technologies in the space field.

The three partners will research the possibility of launching a large number of cooperative nano-satellites, known as CubeSats, into space to support the prediction of severe weather events, as well as broader weather forecasting and climate modelling.

A CubeSat is a type of miniaturised satellite currently being developed for space research, offering the potential for achieving revolutionary and affordable space capability in Low Earth Orbit for sensing and communications applications. These CubeSats would potentially replace the larger satellites currently orbiting Earth and would provide a cost effective means of increasing data acquisition.

Roke's communications, networks and electronic sensor experts will design the payload of the CubeSat system and assess the technical capability and suitability for space-based deployment within a CubeSat. The performance and cost attributes of 96 different architectural mission CubeSat designs will be assessed.

Roke has also recently successfully delivered a programme for the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory's (Dstl) nano-satellites research project. As the lead of the Gioconda consortium, it has designed and constructed a very high performance three metre long deployable antenna, covering the entire frequency range of 200 MHz to 2 GHz, which was chosen by Dstl as a band of interest for as yet undefined communications, radar, electronic surveillance/spectrum monitoring tasks.