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Stevenson Astrosat’s commercialisation of space sector

Success in the Copernicus Masters, the prestigious earth monitoring competition, has led to further opportunities for Stevenson Astrosat, one of Scotland's most ambitious space services and management companies.

Last year, it won the Copernicus Masters Transport and Logistics Challenge from the Satellite Applications Catapult for its Transport Sentry, a product in development that will utilise space-based radar to detect landslides or subsidence in road or rail networks.

Transport Sentry uses synthetic aperture radar and optical satellites to examine road and rail links that have previously been identified as potential problem areas and quickly report damage back to a transport infrastructure operator.

It is a vitally important tool, especially in remote areas places with poor communications infrastructure and it is now achieving significant attention in Asia as a potential export product.

The Copernicus Prize was a milestone for Astrosat, which has, since inception, demonstrated its impressive capabilities in Earth Observation, Satellite Communications and Hardware Development.

The Edinburgh-based company has transformed the way space-based information can be used to bring previously unattainable benefits to energy, transport and aquaculture enterprises. It is also engaged in technology transfer and creating innovative spacecraft systems.

Success with Transport Sentry helped Astrosat to develop the Recovery and Protection in Disaster (RAPID) system, designed to provide valuable data sourced from every available satellite to allow a developing country to “plug the gaps” in their economies and provide large costs savings through greater resilience and recovery from disaster.

Astrosat's RAPID digital maps allow users to interact and gain real time data. They provide an overview for clients by taking raw satellite data and translating it into a form that can be accessed and understood.

It also led to its Coastal Sentry product, focused on coastal erosion monitoring. Coastal erosion is a problem for coastal communities worldwide. As communities develop and utilise coastlines, more knowledge of how they are changing is key to ensuring safety and sustainable development. This product also has significant export potential.

Astrosat was founded by CEO Steve Lee, who has assembled a hugely-respected team of scientists with skill sets ranging across disciplines including astrophysics, astronautics, oceanography, hydrography and geoscience.

Its aim is to be at the forefront of the commercialisation of the space sector, helping its end users meet their needs in a sustainable manner using space technology.

Astrosat takes data from both geo-stationary satellites and polar orbiters and merges it with data mined from earth-based resources. This combination allowed the company to found ThermCERT, a thermal and carbon efficiency reporting tool which has now been spun off.

ThermCERT uses space-derived data to enhance quality and scanning frequency over the lifetime of a thermal investment and increases the effectiveness of carbon credits/trading.

It reduces thermal waste, particularly over large areas or in large buildings, and is vital in lowering global carbon emissions. It provides a suite of tools for targeting, measuring, reporting on, verifying, communicating and promoting thermal efficiency investments.

Astrosat is using similar data conflations and configurations to trial WaveCERT, which will allow marine renewable energy companies to decide on ideal locations for installation without the need for costly marine surveys.

WaveCERT extends Astrosat's existing "CERT Suite" of renewable, low-carbon, space-driven technologies. Through the integration of space-derived oceanographic data with advanced numerical tools, WaveCERT aims to revolutionise marine surveying.

Other products include Field Aware, a mobile data centre in the field for use in disaster situations or simply operating in remote locations. It is designed to deliver important Earth Observation data direct to end users in the field so that informed decisions can be made where they are most needed.

Astrosat's Geo-Secure product enhances communications security in the field. Communications security (especially via satellite) depends on good software encryption - but even the best codes can be broken. This service utilises satellite positioning systems to ensure the highest possible level of security.

The company is also developing an innovative solution for identifying space debris in the increasingly congested satellite zones above Earth. The Lifeless Space Beacon which could be carried by spacecraft and would transmit a signal which would let ground stations identify its position and track it, even if the satellite itself lost power.

Astrosat's innovations have been award-winning since inception. It won the DLR Environmental Challenge in 2012 for ThermCERT and the Astrium Radar Challenge in 2014 for WaveCERT.