Satellites at forefront of engineering climate change fight

A major environmental conference this month will hear how the space sector is contributing to tackling the global climate emergency.

The ‘Engineering Climate Conference’ is a virtual two-day event organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland, Engineering Scotland and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Scotland.

Amongst the speakers will be representatives from the Shetland Space Centre (SSC), the UK Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre, the High Speed 2 Railway project and the Institute for Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh

SSC’s director, Scott Hammond, said: “Satellites are used in a wide range of ways to help tackle the climate emergency, principally by improving efficiency.

To give just one example, satellite data for aircraft flying outwith radar range can, in conjunction with other information such as weather forecasts, help improve the efficiency of flightpaths.”

He added: “When it comes to launch, the space sector is looking at the use of environmentally friendly propellants and different types of oxidisers to reduce emissions of hazardous gases.

The re-use of materials, through for example the recovery of rocket stages, is also a prominent development within the sector.”

Chair of the ICE Scotland Edinburgh branch, Ellen Halkon, said: “This conference was organised because we are keen to showcase the great work being done in the engineering community for carbon reduction.

We are hoping to capture the lessons learnt from our fantastic speakers and use these to promote further carbon reduction throughout the engineering industry.”

Dr Carol Marsh OBE, a member of the IET’s council, said: “With COP26 on the horizon, this conference is very timely. We hope it will be an annual event because climate change is our biggest challenge and we know engineers are at the forefront to address.”

The conference takes place on June 15 and 16.

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