UCLan confirmed as founding member of world’s first independent space science mission

‘Twinkle’ satellite aims to answer some of humanity’s greatest questions

Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 3:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 3:42 pm

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

The founding members include institutions from North America (Vanderbilt University, Ohio State University, University of Toronto), Asia-Pacific (Nanjing University, National Tsing Hua University, University of Southern Queensland) and Europe (Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Cardiff University and UCLan), who will then join five other institutions who have also secured telescope time for their research teams.

The team of founding members, who have previously worked at organisations such as NASA, Airbus, Surrey Satellite Technology, Caltech and UCL, are now working together to design a powerful scientific programme ahead of the satellite launch in three years time, making this a truly global and innovative space science collaboration.

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UCLan is a founding member of the world’s first independent space science mission.

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

UCLan’s 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.”

Twinkle is the first in a series of scientific satellites from Blue Skies Space, and 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.

The Blue Skies Space Ltd 'Twinkle' satellite.

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

Professor Giovanna Tinetti, Chief Scientific Officer, Blue Skies Space, added: “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.”

A Twinkle animation frame capture.