in Space

Space telescope tackles skills shortage

Posted 23 November 2017 · Add Comment

The skills gap in the UK has been delivered a fresh blow after a team of engineering students from Sheffield University - with a little help from Harmonic Drive UK - successfully launched a new solar telescope mounted on a high-altitude balloon.



The SunbYte project has been sponsored, in part, by precision gearing specialist Harmonic Drive UK who helped educate the students on the use of precision actuation for the project.

The Sheffield University Nova Balloon Lifted Solar Telescope (SunbYte) team — made up of students and academics from a range of engineering and science backgrounds at Sheffield University — successfully launched the solar telescope from Esrange Space Center in Kiruna, Sweden, at 9:30am on October 20, 2017.

The telescope was lifted to around 30km above the Earth's surface by a helium balloon and will collect vital data to help scientists develop defences against solar flares.

"Traditionally, ground-based solar observation telescopes can take up to five years to develop and the resulting images are distorted by higher levels of the Earth's atmosphere," explained Dr. Viktor Fedun, lead academic advisor to the project from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

"One of the biggest challenges we faced was weight and accuracy. As a result, we've used innovative manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing and incorporated novel components such as a high-precision actuator that features a strainwave gear supplied by one of our sponsors, Harmonic Drive UK.

"Used previously on space projects such as NASA's Mars Rover, Harmonic Drive's actuator allowed us to precisely control the gimbal on which the telescope was mounted. Not only did this allow us to perform very precise pan-and-tilt movements to produce accurate solar observations, the actuator was capable of delivering a torque output of up to 147Nm with a gear ratio of 160:1, which meant it was very powerful yet very lightweight."

"We were able to complete the design and development of the telescope in less than a year," explained the student-lead Yun-Hang Cho. "The short development cycle of the project gave us practical, hands-on experience of working with the latest technologies used in today's engineering industry.

"A traditional project can take up to ten years to develop and by the time it's finished the technology is already obsolete, which means that when students enter the world of work, they're already starting on the back foot. This is why it was valuable to receive training from Harmonic Drive on the latest actuation systems in use in the aerospace sector today."
 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Aircraft production soars towards annual record

November reached new heights for aircraft deliveries, as both the highest month of this year so far and the best November on record.

Iain Harrison awarded CBE in Queen’s New Year’s Honours List

Iain Harrison, Strategic Engagement Director at QinetiQ since September 2017, has been awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2018 for his contribution to the British Army.

INVISIO awarded DALO contract

INVISIO has signed a framework agreement with the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO), to supply communication systems to the Danish Army.

Treehouse yields positive results for BAE Systems

Gloucestershire based Innovation & Creative Training Company, Treehouse, has recently completed its first management development programme for BAE Systems’ Combat Air Product Support department, with the Managing

Supacat's SOV-MH fleet accepted in New Zealand

Supacat has announced that the fleet of Special Operations Vehicles – Mobility Heavy (SOV-MH) has been accepted by the New Zealand Ministry of Defence and goes into service with the New Zealand Defence Force early this year.

FDM invests in HP MJF 3D printer

UK additive manufacturing company, FDM Digital Solutions, has invested in a cutting-edge HP additive manufacturing machine which will revolutionise the way end use components are manufactured, saving time, money and resources.

ODU SK191217191218
See us at
S&P BT281117080318FIL18 BT111017220718SMI FAVSABT2411120418Aviation Africa BT18418SMI NCWBT3110020218