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Glasgow students’ climate change satellite to be launched into space after competition win
The GU Orbit Team/Glasgow University
Data & AI

Glasgow students’ climate change satellite to be launched into space after competition win 

A team of Scottish university students will see a satellite they designed sent into space after winning a £600,000 national competition.

The Glasgow University students were announced as the winners of the LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition, run by the UK Space Agency and Department for Transport, on Friday.

The GU Orbit team beat 40 teams from across the UK for identifying a clear way to tackle climate change and test new technologies.

Their design for a satellite capable of monitoring climate change from space will now be built and could be launched from a UK spaceport as soon as next year.

The team’s design, called OirthirSAT, is a nanosatellite which aims to monitor shorelines and coastal vegetation from orbit using images taken in the visible and near-infrared portions of the spectrum.

Those images could help scientists and policymakers to track, quantify and mitigate the effects of climate change on coastal regions.

Joe Gibbs, one of the student leads of the OirthirSAT team, said: “OirthirSAT will generate important data on the UK coastline that will be invaluable to shaping UK policy on climate change, and I look forward to being a part of the student team developing the platform.”

Freya Muir, the team’s science officer, said: “Going through the competition and designing the mission helped show us that there is a real desire and need, both in industry and in research, for up-to-date information on how our coasts are changing with rising sea levels and increased storm activity.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “With satellite launches due to start from home soil this year, there is no better time to support the next generation of space experts in developing satellites to support our mission against climate change.

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

Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Satellite technology plays a crucial role in monitoring our climate and it is fantastic to see so many innovative ideas to help tackle the most pressing issue facing our planet.

“The countdown to the first satellite launch from UK soil is on and this will be a historic year for our space sector.

“Being the first country in Europe to offer launch will boost our satellite industry further, creating hundreds of new jobs across the UK.”

The GU Orbit team is made up of undergraduate and postgraduate students from across Glasgow University’s James Watt School of Engineering, the School of Computing and the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences.

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