Sir Martin studied for his PhD in the late 1970s on HF (shortwave) antennas but, with a passion for space and in his spare time, he built a tracking station at the University to receive images from US and Soviet weather satellites and a telecommand station for amateur radio satellites in the OSCAR series. In 1979, he started designing and building UoSAT-1, the first modern 70kg 'microsatellite', and persuaded NASA to launch it 'piggyback' on a DELTA rocket. UoSAT-1 was controlled in orbit after launch in 1981 from the groundstation on the Surrey campus and its transmissions were monitored by thousands of radio amateurs and schools worldwide. Following the launch of the University's second satellite (UoSAT-2) in 1984, Martin vigorously pursued research funding to develop this new concept of 'microsatellites' using the emerging microelectronics revolution to meet applications in satellite communications and Earth observation. With modest research funding, he formed a young and dynamic research group that developed more sophisticated and capable satellite subsystems and payloads.
Recognising that research funding alone would be insufficient to enable the team to build a series of microsatellites, Sir Martin launched the University-owned spin-off company, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in 1985 to exploit the commercial potential of Surrey's novel small satellites - initially with 4 employees and a capital of just £100.
In the 1990s, SSTL's business developed a unique “Know-How Transfer and Training” (KHTT) programme, alongside building a series of increasingly advanced microsatellites, where a combination of academic and hands-on technical training was provided to young engineers and scientists from countries who wanted to take their first steps into space - but on an affordable budget. Working together as a team with Surrey engineers to build a satellite, each of our international partners were able to master the complex and diverse skills required to design, build, launch, and operate a satellite once in orbit. Surrey has since provided 22 highly successful international programmes and has trained over 150 engineers and scientists, some of whom are the nucleus of staff that formed five new space agencies! Importantly, these KHTT programmes with SSTL fueled the research activity in the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) academic team to develop ever more capable yet affordable microsatellites. Recent KHTT programmes have been completed with Nigeria resulting in the launch of NigeriaSat-2 and Nx in August 2011, a team from Kazakhstan building an EO satellite launched in 2013 and currently with a second team from Algeria building a micro- and nano- satellites for launch in 2016.
Around the year 2000, following landmark UoSAT-12 minisatellite and SNAP-1 nanosatellite demonstration missions, small satellites made the transition from being a research novelty to becoming a very powerful provider of operational missions. This transition was demonstrated first by the creation by SSTL of the international Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) of Earth observation microsatellites - building medium resolution microsatellites for Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey, Spain and UK. And then by securing contracts for a series of operational small satellite missions such as RapidEye, FormoSat-7, Kanopus and DMC-3.
SSTL's capabilities grew rapidly and won the contract to build 22 navigation payloads for the Galileo Full Operational Constellation for ESA/EC; a constellation of three high-resolution (1-metre) Earth Observation minisatellites with capacity leased to customers through a novel business model; and its first 'small' (4,000kg!) Geostationary communications satellite ('Quantum') for EutelSat. In 2016, SSTL is building eight new satellites including a low-cost medium-resolution radar minisatellite (NovaSAR), supported by the UK government and planned for launch in December 2016.
SSTL has grown now to 500 staff with an annual turnover of £100M and exports exceeding £700M. In early 2009, the University sold its shareholding in SSTL to EADS Astrium NV and today the Company has a larger order book than at any time in its past.
The Surrey Space Centre has similarly expanded to around 100 researchers working across a wide range of multi-disciplinary space topics, with very close links to both SSTL and ASTRIUM for the sponsorship and exploitation of its research - demonstrating the real synergy of academic research and commercial exploitation.
In recognition of his pioneering work on cost-effective spacecraft engineering, Sir Martin was appointed OBE in 1996 and awarded a Knighthood in the Queen's New Year's Honours list in 2002. More recently Sir Martin was awarded the Royal Institute of Navigation Gold Medal in recognition of the successful GIOVE-A mission for the European Galileo system, awarded the Sir Arthur Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award and named as one of the 'Top Ten Great Britons' in 2008. In 2010, Sir Martin was awarded the Faraday Medal by the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and an Elektra Lifetime Achievement Award by the European Electronics Industry. In March 2012, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineering Design - presented by HRH Duke of Edinburgh. In 2014 he received the prestigious von Karman Wings Award from CalTech/JPL and Chinese Academy of Sciences/COSPAR Jeoujang Jaw Award recognising his contribution to international space development. In 2016 Sir Martin was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and identified by The Sunday Times as one of the UK's 20 most influential engineers.
Sir Martin has over 250 publications and is currently active in a number of external bodies:
- Chairman of the Board of Trustees, National Space Centre, Leicester
- Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Radio Communications Foundation
- Chairman of the International Astronautical Federation Honours & Awards Committee
- Chairman of AMSAT-UK
manned missions, which require extremely robust and expensive Guidance Navigation and Control (GNC) solutions.
By developing a low-cost and safety compliant GNC architecture and design methodology, low cost GNC solutions
needed for future missions with proximity flight phases will have reduced development risk, and more rapid
development schedules. This will enable a plethora of on-orbit services to be realised using low cost satellite
technologies, and lower the cost of the services to a point where they can be offered to commercial as well as
institutional entities and thereby dramatically grow the market for on-orbit construction, in-orbit servicing and active
debris removal. It will enable organisations such as SSTL to compete in an area previously exclusive to large
institutional players. The AAReST mission (to be launched in 2018), will demonstrate some key aspects of low cost
close proximity ?co-operative? rendezvous and docking (along with reconfiguration/control of multiple mirror
elements) for future modular telescopes. However this is only a very small scale academic mission demonstration
using cubesat technology, and is limited to very close range demonstrations.
This UK National Space Technology Programme (NSTP-2) project, which is being carried out by SSTL and SSC, is
due to be completed by the end of November 2017 and is co-funded by the UK Space Agency and company R&D. It
is aiming to build on the AAReST ("Autonomous Assembly of a Reconfigurable Space Telescope") mission (where
appropriate), and industrialise existing research, which will culminate in a representative model that can be used to
develop low-cost GNC solutions for many different mission applications that involve proximity activities, such as
formation flying, and rendezvous and docking. The main objectives and scope of this project are the following:
· Definition of a reference mission design (based on a scenario that SSTL considers credible as a realistic
scenario) and mission/system GNC requirements.
· Develop a GNC architectural design for low cost missions applications that involve close proximity
formation flying, rendezvous and docking (RDV&D) - i.e. ?proximity activities?
· Develop a low cost sensor suite suitable for use on proximity missions
· Consider possible regulatory constraints that may apply to the mission
The SSTL/SSC reference mission concept is a
This thesis develops a Planetary Monocular Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping (PM-SLAM) system aimed specifically at a planetary exploration context. The system uses a novel modular feature detection and tracking algorithm called hybrid-saliency in order to achieve robust tracking, while maintaining low computational complexity in the SLAM filter. The hybrid saliency technique uses a combination of cognitive inspired saliency features with point-based feature descriptors as input to the SLAM filter. The system was tested on simulated datasets generated using the Planetary, Asteroid and Natural scene Generation Utility (PANGU) as well as two real world datasets which closely approximated images from a planetary environment. The system was shown to provide a higher accuracy of localisation estimate than a state-of-the-art VO system tested on the same data set.
In order to be able to localise the rover absolutely, further techniques are investigated which attempt to determine the rover's position in orbital maps. Orbiter Mask Matching uses point-based features detected by the rover to associate descriptors with large features extracted from orbital imagery and stored in the rover memory prior the mission launch. A proof of concept is evaluated using a PANGU simulated boulder field.
and applications. Large satellites with masses over 1000kg support high resolution remote sensing of the Earth,
high bandwidth communications services and world-class scientific studies but take lengthy developments and are
costly to build and launch. The advent of commercially available, high-volume and hence low cost microelectronics
has enabled a different approach through miniaturisation. This results in physically far smaller satellites that
dramatically reduces timescales and costs and that are able to provide operational and commercially viable
services. This paper charts the evolution and rise of small satellites from being an early curiosity with limited utility
through to the present where small satellites are a key element of modern space capabilities.
which facilitates several functions such as hazard avoidance, localization and path
planning. Most of the current research is based on stereoscopic vision or multiple cameras
strategically placed along the rover chassis that perform one specific function. This
works for large rovers with sufficient processing power, however such resources would
not be very practical for small or micro-rovers.
This thesis aims to extract terrain surface information from a single camera mounted
on a micro-rover such as the Surrey Mobile Autonomy and Robotics Testbed (SMART)
based on minimal computational resources. The terrain surface information can provide
feature inputs to other on-board navigation functions such as the Planetary Monocular
Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (PM-SLAM) and constellation matching.
The detected terrain surface can also be of scientific interest due of the geometrical
characteristics produced from this research.
This research aims to improve the processing speed of the Guidance Navigation
and Control (GNC) system using low level 2D image processing techniques. The methods
employed result in a faster "perception stage" of the GNC with lower processing
power requirements, creating structural information, shape descriptors and cognitive
segmentation/classification of the rover?s surrounding environment.
Although the initial application of this research is for planetary rovers, the research
outcome is envisaged to be relevant, and hence transferable, to other vehicle navigation
problems used on land, air or under water.
The size of any single spacecraft is ultimately limited by the volume and mass constraints of currently available
launchers, even if elaborate deployment techniques are employed. Costs of a single large spacecraft may also be
unfeasible for some applications such as space telescopes, due to the increasing cost and complexity of very large
monolithic components such as polished mirrors.
The capability to assemble in-orbit will be required to address missions with large infrastructures or large
instruments/apertures for the purposes of increased resolution or sensitivity. This can be achieved by launching
multiple smaller spacecraft elements with innovative technologies to assemble (or self-assemble) once in space and
build a larger much fractionated spacecraft than the individual modules launched.
Up until now, in-orbit assembly has been restricted to the domain of very large and expensive missions such as space
stations. However, we are now entering into a new and exciting era of space exploitation, where new mission
applications/markets are on the horizon which will require the ability to assemble large spacecraft in orbit. These
missions will need to be commercially viable and use both innovative technologies and small/micro satellite
approaches, in order to be commercially successful, whilst still being safety compliant. This will enable
organisations such as SSTL, to compete in an area previously exclusive to large commercial players. However, inorbit
assembly brings its own challenges in terms of guidance, navigation and control, robotics, sensors, docking
mechanisms, system control, data handling, optical alignment and stability, lighting, as well as many other elements
including non-technical issues such as regulatory and safety constraints. Nevertheless, small satellites can also be
used to demonstrate and de-risk these technologies.
In line with these future mission trends and challenges, and to prepare for future commercial mission demands, SSTL
has recently been making strides towards developing its overall capability in ?in-orbit assembly in space? using
small satellites and low-cost commercial approaches. This includes studies and collaborations with Surrey Space
Centre (SSC) to investigate the three main potential approaches for in-orbit assembly, i.e. deployable structures,
robotic assembly and modular rendezvous and docking. Furthermore, SSTL is currently developing an innovative
small ~20kg nanosatellite (the ?Target?) as part of the ELSA-d mission which will include various rendezvous and
docking demonstrations. This paper provides an overview and latest results/status of all these exciting recent in-orbit
assembly related activities.
This work describes a full end-to-end analysis of the uncertainty at a pixel level of the Top-Of-Atmosphere (TOA) radiance/reflectance factor products. It develops a methodology framework that can be adapted and reproduced by several EO missions to provide TOA radiometric uncertainty. The method is not only described but implemented as a software tool named Radiometric Uncertainty Tool (RUT) using as an example the Sentinel-2 (S2) mission.
The uncertainty methodology starts from a radiometric model, where a set of uncertainty contributors are identified and specified at a pixel level, by reviewing the pre- and post-launch sensor radiometric characterisations. These contributors are assessed using the metadata and quality information associated to the satellite products where possible. As a consequence, the uncertainty contributions are specified for the specific satellite acquisition time, scene and processing. Some of the uncertainty contributions required the use of novel estimation methods that have been specifically applied to the assessment of the uncertainty propagation produced by the image orthorectification and the radiometric impact of the spectral knowledge. The study proposes an uncertainty combination model with an important effort in using the best metrological practices as described in the ?Guide to Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement? (GUM) model. The assumptions in the model have been validated by comparing the results to a Monte Carlo Method (MCM), the correlation among the different uncertainty contributions has been studied, and the impact of simplifications in the combination model has been assessed. As an extension of the work towards its larger application, a methodology has been proposed and implemented to estimate the uncertainty associated to the mean of the pixels in a Region of Interest (ROI). The study considers the correlation of the pixels in the spatial, temporal and spectral dimension. As a result, the TOA radiometric uncertainty estimates can be of direct use for applications as the radiometric validation activities or product spatial binning. Further extension of the uncertainty concepts has resulted in a set of tools, algorithms and methodologies that have been used in order to estimate the radiometric uncertainty achievable for an indicative target sensor through in-flight cross-calibration using a well-calibrated hyperspectral SI-traceable reference sensor with observational characteristics such as TRUTHS (Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial and Helio-Studies) mission. This study considers the criticality of the instrumental and observational characteristics on pixel level reflectance factors, within a defined spatial ROI within the target site. It quantifies the main uncertainty contributors in the spectral, spatial, and temporal dimension.
astronomy missions and also permit Earth
observation integral to science and national security. On
account of the increased spatial resolution, spectral coverage,
and signal-to-noise ratio, there is a constant clamour
for larger aperture telescopes by the science and surveillance
communities. This paper addresses a 25 m modular
telescope operating in the visible wavelengths of the electromagnetic
spectrum; such a telescope located at geostationary
Earth orbit would permit 1 m spatial resolution of
a location on Earth. Specifically, it discusses the requirements
and architectural options for a robotic assembly
system, called Robotic Agent for Space Telescope Assembly
(RASTA). Aspects of a first-order design and initial
laboratory test-bed developments are also presented.
Earth Observation via satellite has been successfully used for several decades in many applications. Monitoring climate change is the most challenging one, as it requires highly accurate data to enable detection of small changes in naturally variable signals over different spatial and temporal scales. A measure used in metrology to assess the quality of the data is measurement uncertainty. However, to date, many satellite products still do not have uncertainties, the accuracy requirements are not defined precisely and even calibrations are performed without associated measurement uncertainty budgets. Thus is it often impossible to put an unbiased quality mark to the data that, by default, requires the highest levels of accuracy. This poses the risks of using poor quality data as the input to climate change models.
This research focuses on the \ground truth" measurement methodology called vicarious calibration. This is an independent post-launch satellite calibration technique based on a comparison of satellite readings with ground data and atmospheric modelling. Two test sites were selected as examples, land and ocean, to have uncertainty evaluated for their ground products following the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM) methodology.
A new radiometric calibration site, Gobabeb in the Namib Desert, was established for radiometric calibration of Top-of-Atmosphere (TOA) radiance/reflectance level 1 (L1) satellite products, and a campaign was conducted to measure the ground's reflectance. All instruments used during the initial characterisation were previously calibrated and characterised in optical laboratories. The in situ uncertainty budget was evaluated and validated by the comparison of the results to an alternative measurement source. The primary input of this research to the scientific community, apart from the new site, is a revised SI traceability chain for the ground reflectance field measurements. Hitherto, the reflectance reference standards used in situ had a calibration that did not match field illumination conditions. Although this problem was known, often it was not addressed or dealt with accurately. This study proposed a new field calibration value for the reflectance standard that combines direct and diffuse components weighted accordingly to the wavelength and atmospheric conditions during the measurement.
The work on the ocean site concentrated on the existing Boueé pour l?acquisition de Séries Optiques á Long Terme (BOUSSOLE) site that is permanently deployed in the Ligurian Sea and provides Bottom of Atmosphere (BOA) water leaving radiance/reflectance level 2 (L2) Ocean Colour System Vicarious Calibration (SVC). This site had a preliminary uncertainty estimated as one generic number for all spectral channels and environmental conditions. A new uncertainty budget was developed by a detailed evaluation of each identified uncertainty component and these were combined by applying the Monte Carlo Method (MCM). As a result, a dynamic uncertainty evaluation for each measurement and the spectral band was produced addressing real measurement conditions and their effects on the quality of the relevant in situ products.
faces significant technological and financial challenges, and this paper evaluates how small such a spacecraft
could be made whilst still fulfilling a useful mission. SAR offers a range of complementary capabilities
alongside other Earth Observation systems with various unique features, but developing such spacecraft
has traditionally been expensive and technologically challenging. It is only in the most recent years
that small satellite SAR missions have been implemented and operated, and this paper examines the state
of the art and the challenges. Furthermore the opportunities of how small SAR satellites can help realise
new Earth Observation capabilities not available on existing traditional SAR satellites are described using
examples of missions under development or reference design missions.
James Webb Space Telescope. Commercially, large aperture space-based imaging systems will enable a new generation
of Earth Observation missions for both science and surveillance programs. However, launching and operating
such large telescopes in the extreme space environment poses practical challenges. One of the key design challenges
is that very large mirrors (i.e. apertures larger than 3m) cannot be monolithically manufactured and, instead, a segmented
design must be utilized to achieve primary mirror sizes of up to 100m. Even if such large primary mirrors
could be made, it is impossible to stow them in the fairings of current and planned launch vehicles, e.g., SpaceX?s
Starship reportedly has a 9m fairing diameter. Though deployment of a segmented telescope via a folded-wing design
(as done with the James Webb Space Telescope) is one approach to overcoming this volumetric challenge, it is considered
unfeasible for large apertures such as the 25m telescope considered in this study. Parallel studies conducted
by NASA indicate that robotic on-orbit assembly (OOA) of these observatories offers the possibility, surprisingly,
of reduced cost and risk for smaller telescopes rather than deploying them from single launch vehicles but this is
not proven. Thus, OOA of large aperture astronomical and Earth Observation telescopes is of particular interest to
various space agencies and commercial entities. In a new partnership with Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and
Airbus Defence and Space, the Surrey Space Centre is developing the capability for autonomous robotic OOA of large
aperture segmented telescopes. This paper presents the concept of operation and mission analysis for OOA of a 25m
aperture telescope operating in the visible waveband of the electromagnetic spectrum; telescopes of this size will be
of much value as it would permit 1m spatial resolution of a location on Earth from geostationary orbit. Further, the
conceptual evaluation of robotically assembling 2m and 5m telescopes will be addressed; these missions are envisaged
as essential technology demonstration precursors to the 25m imaging system.
Astrophysicists demand larger (mirror diameter > 10m) space optical telescopes to investigate more distant events that happened during the very early period of the universe, for example formations of the earliest stars. The deployable telescope design like James Webb Space Telescope that has a 6.5m diameter primary mirror has already reached the capacity limits of the existing launch vehicles. Therefore, the
space industry has been considering using robotic technologies to build future optical reflecting three-mirror structured space telescopes in orbit from smaller components.
One of the design paradigms is to use a high-DOF manipulator on a free-flying platform to build the optical telescope in orbit. This approach requires high precision and accuracy in the robotic manipulation GNC system that has several challenges yet to be addressed: 1. Orbital environmental parameters that affect sensing and perception; 2. Limitations in robotic hardware, trajectory planning algorithms and controllers.
To investigate these problems for in-orbit manipulation, the UK national hub on future AI and robotics for space (FAIR-SPACE) at the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) has been developing a ground-based hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) robotic demonstrator to simulate in-orbit manipulation. The key elements of the demonstrator are two 6-DOF manipulators and a re-configurable sensor system. One of the manipulators with a > 3-DOF gripping mechanism represents the assembly manipulator on a spacecraft whose orbital dynamics, kinematics, and environmental disturbances and uncertainties are propagated in a computer. The other 6-DOF manipulator with a torque/force sensor is used as a gravity offoad mechanism to carry the space telescope mirror segment. The relative motions between the service/manipulation arm and the mirror segment are computed and then executed by the second arm. The sensor system provides visual feedback of the end-effector and uses computer vision and AI to estimate the pose and position of the mirror segment
respectively. The demonstrator aims to verify and validate the manipulator assembly approach for future large space optical telescopes against ground truth and benchmarks.
This paper explains the motivation behind developing this testbed and introduces the current hardware setup of the testbed and its key features.