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Centre for Advanced Instrumentation

Space Science

Integral Field Unit (flight model) for the James Webb Space Telescope

Durham has been at the cutting edge of space research for many years and has an outstanding reputation in space science. CfAI members work closely with Durham colleagues in the Institute for Computational Cosmology who have been consistently ranked in the global top 25 and European top 10 institutions, based on key scientific performance indicators. Our space science technology R&D programme includes the development of novel optical systems and we have manufactured one of the key subsystems which will be launched in 2018 on the James Webb Space Telescope - the NASA/ESA successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Other space science technology programmes we have been involved in are listed below.

Durham Space Science Technology Projects

  • NIRSpec IFU – diamond machined optics for the analysis of light from faint galaxies seen 10 Billion years ago (in collaboration with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd)
  • NIRSpec OGSE – optical test equipment for the James Webb Space Telescope Near Infra-Red Spectrograph (in collaboration with Mullard Space Science Laboratory)
  • Euclid Phase A – optical design for a European Space Agency mission to understand the nature of dark energy and dark matter in the Universe
  • EXES – off-axis ellipsoid and hyperboloid mirrors for an instrument on the SOFIA airborne observatory which will study dusty galaxies far back into the history of the Universe
  • DIFFRACT – new new diffractive structures for space borne solid state beam switches to help make satellites even more cost-effective (in collaboration with Cosine Research)
  • SENTINEL4 – optical ground segment equipment for the characterisation and calibration of the UVN spectrometer on the Sentinel-4 satellite which is one of ESAs flagship Copernicus missions to monitor the Earth's atmosphere (in collaboration with Mullard Space Science Laboratory)

Download a version of our space science brochure: