UCLan joins world’s first independent space science mission

Posted on - 28th December, 2021 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Education, Preston News, UCLan
A Twinkle animation frame capture

A defence and space manufacturing firm has confirmed UCLan as a founding member of a 2024 satellite launch mission.


Blue Skies Space Ltd. has confirmed that scientists from fourteen global universities, including the University of Central Lancashire, have joined its first space science mission, Twinkle, as the initial group of founding members.

The members are now working together to design a powerful scientific programme ahead of the satellite launch, making it a global and innovative space science collaboration.

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The Twinkle satellite

UCLan Professor Derek Ward Thompson, an expert in the fields of star and planet formation, said: “The Twinkle Space Mission offers some very exciting scientific possibilities.

“I am particularly fascinated by the prospect that we will be able to study the atmospheres of planets around other stars.

“This offers the opportunity to tell whether a particular planet is Earth-like and potentially habitable or not, thereby increasing our ability to assess the likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe.”

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Once launched into low-earth orbit in 2024, the Twinkle satellite will deliver visible and infrared spectroscopy of thousands of targets.

It will enable Twinkle members to produce transformative research on exoplanet atmospheres, solar system objects, stars and stellar discs as they aim to answer some of humanity’s greatest questions.

Twinkle will provide structured science surveys which will operate at a large scale, providing more than 70,000 hours of observational data during its lifetime.

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Twinkle is the first in a series of scientific satellites from Blue Skies Space. Each will combine the expertise of an international science team with proven satellite and payload suppliers to deliver an advanced satellite at a fraction of the cost and time of a typical space mission of this complexity.

Membership is open to scientists from all backgrounds and experience levels and is available within days.

Professor Giovanna Tinetti, Chief Scientific Officer at Blue Skies Space, said: “Exoplanet research is an exciting and fast-growing international endeavour.

“We are delighted to see that Twinkle’s collaborative model is attracting scientists of all career stages from around the world.”

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The members join five other institutions that have secured telescope time for their research teams.

The founding members include institutions from North America (Vanderbilt University, Ohio State University, and the University of Toronto), Asia-Pacific (Nanjing University, National Tsing Hua University, and the University of Southern Queensland) and Europe (Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Cardiff University and UCLan).

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