Complementary space system design through assessment of current data gaps

University of Manchester

PhD 3.5 years Manchester, UK

Uploaded 4 Nov 2021

Job Description

It is currently estimated that there are more than 4,000 operational spacecraft in orbit around our Earth, providing critical services from communicating with remote locations [1], to detecting wildfire outbreaks [2], and even monitoring the declining walrus population [3]. However, there is no central resource to tell us what coverage or data these spacecraft are providing. Without knowledge of current space systems, mission designers must develop new concepts as standalone systems. This can lead to duplicate observations, launching more spacecraft than necessary, and contributing to the growing space debris problem.

Through this PhD you will develop a more sustainable and considered means of designing space missions. By assessing the coverage available from existing space systems you will identify data gaps and propose methods of space system design to complement rather than duplicate existing systems. This approach will enable future systems to address space data needs efficiently, minimizing environmental impact while maximizing mission value.

Previously developed methods of rapid coverage assessment can provide a starting point for your research [4], while previous, real-world mission design studies can be used to inform the future space mission design approach [5]. Your findings will help shape future space system design, by encouraging industry to adopt a considered, complementary and sustainable approach to future space operations.

As part of the Space Systems Research Group at the University of Manchester, you will work alongside experts in astrodynamics, space systems modelling, and novel space propulsion systems. We will support you to develop expertise in Astrodynamics and Space Mission Design, and acquire skills in Mathematics, Coding, Research Methods, Article Writing, and Presentation Skills. You will take ownership of the outlined project, proposing your own approach and solutions, and will be encouraged to share your findings with an international community of scientists and engineers at conferences and through journal publications.

Person Specification

Entry requirements can be found by selecting the relevant PhD programme at this link: Knowledge of Matlab, Python or a similar coding language would be advantageous.

Please contact Dr McGrath ([email protected]) with any informal enquiries about the research topic. The admissions team at [email protected] will be able to help with any queries around the application process.