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CfAI news and events

Space Applications in Science and Industry Summer School 2023

Space summer school participants group photo outside orbit building

This week we hosted the STFC Space Technology Applications in Science and Industry Summer School at Durham University.

We were super impressed by our students from all over the country and our world-leading speakers and learnt a lot from both! The goal was to provide an overview of space activities in science and industry. We wanted to highlight opportunities but also to discuss the critical aspects of sustainability in space.

It has been a busy week!

We have been discussing the good and not so good side of space. Looking at designing space missions with European Space Agency - ESA (Giuseppe Racca), future space industry opportunities with the Satellite Applications Catapult (Mike Curtis-Rouse and Laura González Llamazares), Space Governance (Nikita Chiu, University of Exeter), Space Law (Christopher J. Newman, Northumbria University), Conflict and Collaboration (Andy Lawrence, The University of Edinburgh), Space Insurance (Mark Williamson, Space Technology Consultant), outreach and public engagement (4wardFutures) and space sustainability (Ralph "Dinz" Dinsley, 3S Northumbria).

We also made space to talk about resilience and mental health during post-graduate study and a careers panel session including Nikita Chiu (University of Exeter), Ariadna Calcines-Rosario (Durham University and Dan Rhodes, PMP Rhodes (Filtronic) exploring the pathways, differences and similarities of careers in academia and industry.

On Thursday we took a trip to Netpark and Orbit (thanks Sara Williams, David Allenson, Christina Munn!) to tour around some of our NE space businesses including Filtronic, aXenic, Raytheon NORSS and MAC SCITECH LIMITED).

I would like to say thank you to everyone involved for making it such a productive week!

We are now looking for sponsors for the next one - get in touch if you can help!

European Adaptive Optics Summer School

We are pleased to announce that registration is open for the 2023 European Adaptive Optics Summer School, which will be held virtually and aligned to European time zones. Topics will cover the basics of adaptive optics across applications in vision science, ophthalmology, astronomy, microscopy, free space optics and beyond. The programme includes live lectures and demonstrations and lab tours. The course will be delivered via Zoom by experts from across the different application areas of AO.

European AO summer school poster

Early bird registration deadline (£75): Monday 8th May 2023 (midnight GMT)

We are also offering a number of free places as scholarships, you can apply via the registration form

For more details visit:

To register visit:


Organising committee

Laura Young - Newcastle University

Karen Hampson – University of Manchester

Qi Hu – University of Oxford

Martin Booth – University of Oxford

Adam Dubis – University College London

Enrique Josua Fernández – Universidad de Murcia

Caroline Kulcsár – Institut d’Optique

Pedro Mecê - Institut Langevin

Serge Meimon - ONERA

Tim Morris – Durham University

Benoit Neichel - Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille

James Osborn – Durham University

Kieran O'Brien – Durham University

Marinko Sarunic - University College London


Adaptive Optics for Extremely Large Telescopes (AO4ELT) is the largest conference in the field with 300 delegates from all over the world. CfAI researcher, Ryan Griffiths, has been offered a prestigious invited talk to present his work on the 24hour SHIMM, the world's first continuous optical turbulence monitor. In total there will be 6 presentations from CfAI staff, including Ali Bharmal, Aurelie Magniez, Ryan Griffiths, Sylvain Cetre, David Barr and Lisa Bardou.

AO4ELT7 poster

Freeform Optics Applications & Manufacturing for Astronomy & Space Missions

CfAI members will participate to a workshop in Chiang-Mai Thailand organised by NARIT on Freeform Optics between the 27th and 30th of May 2023. The workshop will focus on the manufacturing, metrology and various applications of these exotic surfaces in space and astronomical optical systems. Contact: cyril.bourgenot(at)

 Poster for freeform optics workshop in Thailand

CfAI's Lily Westerby-Griffin and Fionagh Thomson explain astronomical instrumentation supported by Durham University Orchestral Society

Durham University Orchestral Society collaborated with the Durham University astronomer’s and instrument scientists in a performance of Holst’s The Planet Suites.

CfAI PhD student talks about instrumentation with Durham Orchestra in support


Ariadna Calcines

Young Female Scientist Talent of Spain 2022

Dr. Ariadna Calcines, senior optical engineer at CfAI, has received the Young Female Scientist Talent Prize 2022 awarded by the Royal Academy of Sciences of Spain (FRACE) in collaboration with Mastercard Spain. This prize is awarded to four female scientists under 45 who have made a significant contribution to sciences in Spain in four categories: Physics and Chemistry; Maths; applications of sciences to technology and Biology and Geology. She has received the prize in the category of applications of sciences to technology for the development of the image slicer technology for solar physics. The design of this technology is her main research line within CfAI applied to night-time and solar observations for ground-based and space telescopes.

Further information can be found in this link.

Dr Ariadna Calcines (far right) with fellow awardees

COAT 2023

Communications and Observations through Atmospheric Turbulence

A multidisciplinary workshop to address the biggest challenges in free-space optical propagation from astronomy to laser communications.

More information here.

COAT conference poster

In a large variety of fields, the development of ever more demanding optical systems now requires a thorough understanding of the impact of atmospheric turbulence together with the development of dedicated mitigation strategies. Originally driven by astronomy, these issues now concern near ground imaging, satellite observation, ground-space and near ground optical free-space telecommunications and laser focusing.

The workshop aims at giving an overview of current research activities in this field. It will address turbulence impact and mitigation, especially in challenging environments such as strong turbulence, strong scintillation, high apparent wind speeds induced by target tracking, anisoplanatism effects due to the field of view or point-ahead angle.

The following topics will, therefore, be addressed during the workshop:
knowledge on turbulence conditions (modelling, characterization & prediction of both Cn² and wind profiles), including free atmosphere and local turbulence; study of system performance with and without mitigation; mitigation strategies based on innovative optical solutions such as single aperture adaptive optics, multi-aperture or aperture diversity solutions, integrated optics architectures, new wave-front sensing approaches, sensorless solutions, laser guide stars, high performance control; lastly, image/signal pre- and post-processing techniques (deconvolution, PSF prediction, digital communications techniques), novel reception schemes and advanced digital signal processing.

24 hour continuous turbulence monitoring at Paranal, Chile

Lisa Bardou and Ryan Griffiths carried out the first continuous optical turbulence monitoring at the European Southern Observatory site at Paranal, Chile.

The Shack Hartmann Image Motion Monitor (SHIMM) is the first instrument capable of measuring optical turbulence continuously day and night. This is important to support operations of optical astronomical telescopes. The night time measurements enable programme management and the daytime measurements enable continuous assimilation into turbulence forecast models.