The School of Physics and Astronomy hosts a large and World-leading astronomy and Earth observation instrumentation group. The instrumentation group consists of approximately 40 researchers with expertise in the development and integration of new technologies for ground-based, balloon-borne and space-borne instruments for astronomy, Earth Observation and security applications. Cardiff has much experience in the development of technology for space-borne astronomy, with key roles in a number of past, ongoing and future instruments and missions such as SCUBA, ISO, Herschel, Planck, SCUBA-2, SPICA-SAFARI, JWST-MIRI, EChO, ARIEL, Twinkle and COrE+. As well as astrophysics applications, the group is currently developing major hardware components for the MetOp-SG series of operational meteorology satellites, due for launch starting in ~2021. The group has also proposed a novel Earth observation instrument concept for satellite-borne atmospheric observations, for meteorology and climatology applications, following a feasibility study funded by UKSA via CEOI-ST. The Cardiff instrumentation group has an excellent global reputation for building instrumentation for space, covering design, development, test and calibration. Much of this work has been funded by STFC, UKSA, and by the European Space Agency, working collaboratively with industry partners.
The group has particular expertise in the following:
Sensors and detectors
State-of-the art detectors arrays for FIR-Submm wavelengths. Development and precision characterisation of low-dark-current MWIR-VLWIR detector arrays
Cryogenics and thermal design
Cryogenic system design and engineering for satellite applications. Overall instrument thermal design and analysis. Cryogenic thermal testing. Precision thermometry for satellite applications. Thermal control systems
Image processing expertise including satellite image analysis expertise; big data workflows and decision-support; data security; geophysical mapping and remote sensing; astronomical image processing and data analysis.
Optics and coatings
World-leading capability in THz optics and quasi-optics including THz filters, dichroics, beam dividers, polarisation analysers etc; general optical design expertise; space-qualified coatings for optics and for thermal engineering; high-temperature metal-oxide coatings – preparation and characterisation; materials for X-ray polarimetry – investigation of X-ray dichroism in crystals – for development of polarisation analysers in astronomical instruments.
Satellite instrument system design and engineering
Expertise in overall satellite instrument system design and engineering. Space project management and quality assurance
Mission design and planning
Expertise in planning astronomy and Earth observation missions.
Satellite hardware qualification and product assurance
Expertise in qualification of components and hardware for spaceflight. Expertise in product assurance for space instrumentation