MSSL student experiment selected for international rocket launch

5 January 2012

REXUS sounding rocket, from

An experiment designed by MSSL students has been selected to be part of the payload onboard a REXUS sounding rocket launch to be launched in 2013. The REXUS programme gives students the chance to design and fly an experiment on a sounding rocket launched from ESRANGE in Kiruna. These rockets carry their payload up to 100 km above northern Scandanacia. Students from around Europe can submit proposals to fly experiments through the European Space Agency (ESA). This year, a team of students from around the UK were accepted to fly PoleCATS, an electron detector based on the work of PhD student Robert Bedington.

The PoleCATS team is a distributed team of undergraduate and postgraduate scientists and engineers from around the UK which has produced a design for a highly-miniaturised electron spectrometer instrument.  The design is built around CATS - the Conceptual And Tiny Spectrometer - which has been developed at MSSL - and a specialised CCD which can detect electrons once they have been pre-selected by energy.

At the beginning of December, four representatives of PoleCATS, including Arrow Lee and Robert Bedington from MSSL, along with students from Imperial College and University of Bath were invited to ESTEC in Holland to present the experiment proposal and learn more about what the programme involves once a team is selected.  The presentation was very well received, with many constructive comments, and a week later the team was informed that the instrument has been selected to fly in February/March 2013 on a launch from Kiruna.

PoleCATS team at ESTEC preparing for proposal presentation

Several members of staff at MSSL were also key to the success of the team; especially the team's advisors - Dhiren Kataria, Dave Walton, Alan Smith, Jason Tandy - and the many others who offered useful information and advice.

The team's next challenge is to work towards the PDR, which will be in February.  To keep up with PoleCATS' progress, take a look at or follow @UKSEDSREXUS on Twitter.

Page last modified on 04 jan 12 16:36