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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y001052/1
Title: ad-ASSTRA: Towards A Sustainable Space Technology Roadmapping Architecture
Principal Investigator: McGrath, Dr CN
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 March 2024 Ends: 28 February 2026 Value (£): 164,589
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 May 2023 ECR International Collaboration Grants Panel 2 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This project aims to build a lasting collaborative relationship between experts at the University of Manchester (UoM) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) through focused cooperative research and use of active collaboration practices.

The aim of the proposed research is to develop novel methods of remote sensing capability modelling and use these in a technology roadmapping framework to identify sustainable future design approaches. As humanity accelerates its efforts to achieve Net Zero, all industries must adapt their practices to continue providing vital products and services, while minimising environmental impact. Remote sensing is a key element of global infrastructure, underpinning our efforts to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, the sustainability of our space missions (the backbone of this capability) is rightly being called into question. Launch of spacecraft has increased by more than 1000% in the past decade, with further increases expected. This will have a significant impact on our terrestrial environment as launch emissions and debris from re-entry damage our atmosphere.

Taking inspiration from foundational work at UoM and MIT, this project will develop a model of current orbital remote sensing capabilities as 'shells', using analytical and geometrical approaches. This model would, for the first time, allow the value, and impact, of future systems to be assessed in the framework of the existing orbital regime. Through engagement with stakeholders across the space and drone industries, as well as data users, environmental experts, and members of the public, future priorities will be identified and used to create suitable figures of merit. Integration of the capability model within the Advanced Technology Roadmapping Architecture, alongside the defined priorities, will allow plausible future scenarios to be identified, assessed and compared. This method could be used to provide insights into possible future routes of development, inform technological investment, and guide creation of future legislation.

As the UK positions itself to be an international leader in Space Sustainability, this is an ideal opportunity to work with colleagues in the US to develop a unique modelling approach and design framework for sustainable future space missions.

While the deterministic nature of satellite orbits makes them ideal for this initial modelling work, it is expected that the proposed technique could be adapted to incorporate aerial systems, such as drones, and even ground based sensors, giving it a wide applicability and paving the way for integrated analysis of remote sensing systems from ground to space.

This project will incorporate three core work packages:

1. Develop a lasting partnership between relevant experts at the University of Manchester and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, via:

- Joint 'flipped' active meetings and seminars;

- Inter-institutional mentoring and supervision; and

- Research collaboration and creation of joint publications.

2. Develop a method of orbital remote sensing modelling, incorporating current capabilities and orbital capacity, as a guide for future sustainable mission design, via:

- Inter-institutional research (including a 2-month secondment);

- Validation and testing of the developed model using suitable case studies; and

- Joint publication of methods and open release of data and code.

3. Use the developed capability model within the Advanced Technology Roadmap Architecture to propose a sustainable remote sensing technology design approach via:

- Upstream engagement to identify stakeholder priorities and state-of-the-art;

- Use of the capability model to assess plausible scenarios within the Advanced Technology Roadmap Architecture framework; and

- Documentation and open release of approach and initial findings.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk