Market assessment of the potential of an IR Radiometer to detect aerosols, volcanic ash and land surface heat emissions

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics

Abstract

The advent of smaller scale satellites is revolutionising both the cost and feasibility of deploying satellites to monitor a wide range of features both on land and in the earth's atmosphere. These small cubesats can be deployed cost-effectively through incorporating a large number of them into a rocket payload or sending them to the International Space Station for deployment from there. The satellites are both small scale (centimetre dimensions) and disposable (their trajectories mean that they burn up in the earth's atmosphere anywhere from 8 months to 2 years from deployment). They are therefore ideal for the demonstration of new technologies as well as for commercial services that may rely on large constellations of such satellites which can cover the earth and leave room for some redundancy should individual units fail to be deployed or operate effectively.

The University of Oxford's Physics Department has been developing an infra-red radiometer capable of being deployed within a cubesat and is now looking to deploy this for both commercial and research purposes. This proposal is therefore to understand the commercial feasibility of such an instrument operating within a satellite. The initial approach is to look at three potential markets for radiometer data: the weather-related data users (including those using volcanic ash data for decision-making around the routes and timings of flights) which includes national meteorological services, weather data companies and also airlines and air traffic controllers; the disaster relief organisations which may be interested in fire and heat emissions on the earth; and the energy efficiency market which is interested in monitoring energy emissions, often from large buildings or industrial sites, and energy infrastructure.

The project will provide a detailed understanding of the information requirements of these users, including understanding how they make use of this information within their organisations, the areas of highest potential value where the greatest opportunity therefore exists, and specifically what data the organisations require, including levels of resolution, repeat times and format. When this information is assessed alongside an understanding of the relative strengths of Oxford's IP and the competition in the market, we will be able to assess whether there is a significant commercial opportunity.

Once this assessment is complete, we will be able to move on to develop the product for launch and to work with commercial and other partners to deliver an initial demonstration mission leading on to longer term product development and deployment.

Planned Impact

This IR radiometer, once fully developed and deployed, will have an impact on the way that weather service organisations can provide key data on volcanic ash clouds to stakeholders. As we have seen following recent Icelandic volcano eruptions, there can be considerable disruption to air travel which could be minimised through accurate monitoring and forecasting of volcanic ash cloud movements. This has a very clear impact on the airline industry in terms of determining whether aircraft are able to fly under specific conditions and the routes which they are able to take, minimising disruption and associated costs.

The eventual impact from using the satellite in the context of disaster relief is to minimise the loss of life and property damage. If this can be achieved through rapid and effective decision-making, drawing on the data provided by the satellite, it could have significant impact as the extent and progress of fires can be assessed to inform access to sites, deployment of fire extinguishing measures and, in combination with information on individuals present at specific locations, rescue and evacuation measures.

The energy efficiency of buildings represents a significant challenge to both developed and developing economies in terms of reducing the demand for energy. Heat emissions from older buildings, which may lack modern insulation methods, can be significant contributions to overall energy wastage. However, monitoring these emissions effectively in terms of both accuracy and timeliness, remains a challenge for both policymakers/regulators and owners of buildings.

Publications

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Description Possible commercial market for thermal IR remote sensing data from space.
Exploitation Route Further more targeted market evaluation to determine technical specifications from user requirements identified by the initial market evaluation study.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Construction,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

 
Description CIIR Development 
Organisation Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Department RAL Space
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Infrared instrument design, science and applications
Collaborator Contribution Business development, flight electronics
Impact Market evaluation report for CubeSat radiometers
Start Year 2015
 
Description CIIR Development 
Organisation Satellite Applications Catapult
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Infrared instrument design, science and applications
Collaborator Contribution Business development, flight electronics
Impact Market evaluation report for CubeSat radiometers
Start Year 2015