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Dr James Blake awarded Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Fellowship

Congratulations to Dr James Blake, who has been awarded a 3-year fellowship of £365,966 through the STFC early-stage research and development scheme.

The funding will kickstart a project entitled 'Preserving dark skies with neuromorphic camera technology', which will look to develop a prototype system for providing early warning of satellites encroaching on astronomical fields of interest.

While frame-based cameras (e.g., CCDs) integrate the amount of light falling upon each pixel within a set exposure time to produce an image frame, neuromorphic or ‘event-based’ cameras instead output a stream of events, with each pixel able to asynchronously report changes in brightness as they happen within the scene.

The research will be led by Dr Blake. He said, “Neuromorphic cameras show great promise for a number of important tasks for space surveillance and tracking. Low Earth orbit is set to become even more crowded than it already is, with tens of thousands of satellites licenced for launch – a headache for space traffic management, but also a real threat to astronomy across multiple wavelength bands. With this project, we aim to examine the potential of event-based sensing as a cost-effective method for keeping track of traffic in the space domain.”

Graphic created of space debris

The project will build from ongoing collaborations with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).