Major funding for UK space research

The UK Space Agency has awarded over £3 million to UK scientists to support research into the exploration of space

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The bulk of the funding will support research into exploring Mars, such as investigating the presence of water, understanding its geochemical environment and atmosphere, and questioning the existence of past and present life on Mars.

However, £230,000 has been specifically allocated to the UK microgravity and space environments community to study concepts and designs for experiments which will deliver high quality science on-board the ISS. Four proposals have been funded:

Dr Simon Archer from the University of Surrey has been awarded just over £16,000 to look at the molecular effects of microgravity on physiological processes like sleep, immune response and cardiovascular function

• £70,000 has been given Professor Charles Cockell from the University of Edinburgh to understand how microbes behave in microgravity and how microgravity influences microbial growth

Dr Daniel Gerber from RAL Space (part of STFC) has been awarded £75,000 to study and deploy an innovative remote sensing instrument that will advance Earth observation and also image regions of deep space tracing the birth of stars and planets and unveiling their evolution

Professor Malcolm Jackson from University of Liverpool will use his funding – just over £78,000 – to undertake a series of preliminary studies to determine the feasibility of microgravity as a model for accelerated skeletal muscle ageing

Libby Jackson, Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency, said about the funding: 

“Microgravity science in the UK has grown rapidly since we joined the ISS programme back in 2012. Any future mission to the ISS represents a really exciting opportunity to build on this and to ensure that the UK science community is properly placed to capitalise on the research opportunities that such a flight would offer.”

Poster image: Astronaut Paolo Nespoli in the Columbus module of ISS, taking part in an experiment assessing the impact of microgravity muscle loss. Credit: NASA

Ruth Milne

Past Springer Nature Staff Member, Springer Nature