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Space Science research at the OU

The Open University is one of the top three university space science centres in the UK in terms of research power. OU space scientists play key roles in iconic missions, such as Rosetta, the first landing on a comet. Using cutting-edge technology, they are unlocking the secrets of the universe and are helping to overcome practical challenges here on Earth, as well as contributing to the growth of the space sector in the UK economy. For instance, the OU's collaborations with commercial partner e2v has helped this UK company to increase its business in international space missions and to secure UK government grant financing for around 100 new jobs. 

Additionally, OU research opens space data sets to the public on an unprecedented scale and inspires the next generation of STEM graduates.

Space is a subject popular with students. In fact, the OU teaches more astronomers than any other UK university and over 30,000 people have studied the OU Space MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course). 

Research specialisms:

Electronic imaging

The Open University’s Centre for Electronic Imaging is a world-leading collaboration with commercial partner e2v Technologies, developing sensors to look deeper into space. The Centre is also working on improving monitoring of Earth from orbit and developed an ultra lightweight camera, which was attached to the UKube-1 satellite mission, launched in July 2014.

Space-based Analytical Science

Mass spectrometers, designed and built at The Open University, have been used in iconic space missions, such as the Rosetta comet landing. This technological expertise is now being used to improve cancer testing and air quality monitoring in submarines.

Rosetta comet lander

Space-derived data

Data from space can benefit all of us, by enabling a 24/7 system of monitoring of volcanoes, helping tackle climate change and transport challenges in ‘smart cities’.

Research highlights

Research impact