The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university with evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The university is made up of a variety of institutions, including 38 constituent colleges and a full range of academic departments. Its space activities, the subject of this report, are concentrated in the sub-Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, which has been developing space instruments since the 1970s, with a broad spectrum of design and manufacturing skills including:
- Mechanical design including facilities for CAD and CAM
- Thermal design
- Focal plane and calibration target design and manufacture
- Product assurance
- Planetary protection requirements for planetary missions
- Flight electronics manufacture including flight flexible cabling based on etched circuits produced in the Department’s Photo-fabrication Unit.
The pre-flight calibration of multiple instruments has been carried out in chambers in the Department’s clean areas which include facilities for thermal vacuum, vibration and shock testing.
The Department’s environmental test facilities are adequate for its in-house programmes. The facilities are available for use by external customers, subject to appropriate planning and commercial terms. When larger test facilities are required for larger instruments, the University has good access to external facilities such as those at Airbus and Harwell.