28 June 2004
Postgraduate students build Space Station instrument
Space science students at the University of Sussex are involved in a prestigious project to design an instrument for the International Space Station (ISS).
George Seferiadis, Nick Huber and Marianne Pouchet, post graduate researchers at the University's Space Science Centre, have worked with their supervisor Professor Paul Gough to design and build the CORES instrument, which will measure space weather.
The initial engineering model has already undergone a series of rigorous tests. The final flight version will be delivered by a supply rocket to the ISS in 2006 and will be bolted to the outside of the Russian segment of ISS by cosmonauts.
"For a prestigious project such as this, it is unusual to have a team effort involving research students," points out Professor Gough. "This shows the sort of high-level research opportunities offered by the University of Sussex."
The students also recognise the significance of their involvement. "This has been a unique opportunity for us to develop an instrument that will actually fly," says George Seferiadis.
The hand-sized instrument, which is being designed so that cosmonauts will be safely be able to handle it while doing a space walk, will measure electrons and ions to study the effects of ISS on the near space environment and vice-versa.
Although Professor Gough is responsible for overall instrument design and control software, the students have individually designed the instrument's fast two dimensional particle readout system; and a fast hardware autocorrelation algorithm, and implemented the gate array (hardware) data processing algorithms.
The mission will also provide a means to test improved algorithms developed out of the work of research fellows Drs Andrew Buckley and Tobia Carozzi from their experience gained with the Centre's missions presently operating: the four European Space Agency Cluster II spacecraft and the Chinese Space Agency Double Star Probe. Professor Dick Grimsdale has also assisted with the development of the CORES particle readout system.
CORES is just one instrument of the Obstanovka ("Environment") instrument complex headed by the Russian InterKosmos Institute and the Ukranian Institute for Space Research. This mission continues the collaboration the Sussex Centre started with these research centres with early Mars missions in the 1980s.
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