Space is a subject that for many of us stimulates intrigue, fascination, awe, and questions. Many questions. But for those professionals who spend their days studying space, exploring space, analysing earth’s relationship with the silent abyss, and educating us about space and earth observation, these questions form the basis of their scientific expertise.
We at Pufferfish love being part of this thrilling sector and we love constantly learning about this inter-galactic subject, so imagine our excitement to have showcased our technology at the 2019 UK Space Conference amongst the UK’s greatest space experts.
As with any conference, the days are filled with countless meetings amongst industry contacts and are a great opportunity to meet new faces and old, but more than anything – discuss what’s going on in the industry.
Join us as we highlight some hugely noteworthy attendees at this year’s conference, and attendees we felt inspired intrigue on a whole new scale.
Pufferfish were on stand with the brilliant teams at NCEO and Space4Climate this year, and being a member of the S4C group, we take great pride in aiding the engagement with, and education surrounding, earth observation and complex global data. It was great to see such positive engagement with our PufferTouch2+ solution overall, and with the wider subject of climate change and our environment.
Utilising complex satellite data, NCEO Scientists are experts at mapping, qualifying and monitoring global phenomena. Some key topics they were visualising on our technology included: 'Monitoring carbon emissions from active fires across the world' and 'Pollutant plumes from burning in the arctic, amazon, Africa & Indonesia'.
See more of their meaningful work on their website here.
Other tech at the conference included Shadow Robot Company; leading experts in dexterous robotic systems for advanced research, teleoperation, and dexterous manipulation, they were showcasing their innovative ‘Shadow Hand’. ‘The only robot hand on the market to have 24 movements and 20 degrees of freedom’ (DOF) it has been hailed as the ‘Holy Grail of Robotics’ by Digital Trends, and is always an interactive, thrilling feature – but especially within the context of robotics in space. How can they aid us in our intelligence missions, and how is teleoperation in general developing to strengthen scientific research?
Which brings us to another exceptional piece of robotic innovation at the conference – the ExoMars Rover, aptly named Bruno. The European Space Agency’s programme to explore the ‘Martian environment’ is one that has gained huge interest from the general public, and with Bruno slated for launch in 2020, he is set to change the world of autonomous navigation on Mars.
Avoiding direct signals from Earth as he travels, ‘allowing more time for science rather than on navigation’, his mission will surely pave the way for a future ‘Mars sample return mission’ to bring back samples from the planet.
I suddenly have ‘Treasure’ by Bruno Mars stuck in my head…
A subject that really hooked our interest (and the interest of many at the conference) was a UK Space Agency and NHS initiative, entitled ‘Space for the NHS’. Aimed at adapting space technology to benefit human health, the £5million fund has been used to adapt techniques to detect cancer sooner. Whether it be through 3D imaging from the likes of Adaptix to replace the traditional CT machine, or combining AI and satellite communications systems to target bowel cancer, it’s great to see such powerful technology being ‘brought down to earth’ for the NHS. “Better early detection and diagnosis, especially with bowel cancer, leads to much better outcomes for patients” (Peter Mountney, CEO of Odin Vision); and while this initiative is still in its early days, the technology will be progressing through clinical trials in the next year.
Watch this space!
Another significant topic surrounding space exploration and earth observation, as well as satellite tracking and global telecommunications in general, is security; As technology develops and our intelligence grows, how do we protect and control it. The conference saw the likes of Blueskytec attend, a company who offer ‘complete protection for cyber-physical systems including future AI and quantum computing based cyber-attacks’. Creating and managing critical security architecture for space systems, Blueskytec are working with the UK Space Agency on securing and protecting their assets. And in a new era of space where it’s becoming contested, congested and competitive, this security will only become more significant.
Last but definitely not least, was Dr Simon Proud of University of Oxford. Simon is a Research Fellow specialising in aviation meteorology and was supporting the NCEO team at the conference. His knowledge of storms and associated turbulence are ‘helping airlines to fly more safely and more efficiently’ – In other words, he is the man helping Pilots avoid the bumps in the air, and we all know this is worthwhile research. This is also a big topic in the wider context of climate change as the rising temperatures are affecting cloud and pollution events, and the European Space Agency’s Cloud and Aerosol Climate Change Initiative (CCI) as a result are producing long-term datasets that describe the properties of clouds in the atmosphere. See more on Simon’s fundamental research here, entitled ‘Flying Safe: Avoiding Turbulence in a changing climate’.
I know who I’ll be thinking of next time I’m on a rough flight!
Overall, the 2019 UK Space Conference saw a busy, thriving, and highly innovative turn out. To see the UK’s leading minds in space science, marketing, robotics, GIS, and astronomy collaborate, discuss and debate this truly unparalleled sector was inspiring, and we can’t wait to go back for another conference.
Thank you as always to the teams at NCEO and Space4Climate, with a special shout out to Briony Turner and Jan Fillingham for your ongoing support. We look forward to working with you again very soon!