Scientists from the Space Instrumentation Group (SIG) at The Open University and BAE Systems have worked together with members of the MoD’s Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) to develop a step-change in a vital piece of safety equipment on board future Royal Navy submarines. Submarine atmosphere monitoring is a specialist area that holds particular challenges and requires specialist equipment for long term monitoring across the vessel. BAE Systems and DE&S identified the need to develop a UK capability in this area and the need for a new analyser, harnessing the expertise behind Ptolemy - the shoe-box sized instrument OU scientists developed and built in collaboration with the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL space team for the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:“Rosetta is a great example of how our investment in big space programmes delivers a wide range of benefits for the UK. Not only do we get to explore our solar system and push the boundaries of science, but we reap the considerable economic and social benefits that new space technologies provide. It’s great to see the skills and technologies our scientists and engineers have developed for this mission being applied in other areas.”

The Open University team, led by Dr Geraint Morgan, was selected for the project as the approach required to develop space instruments, unlike traditional academic departments, requires a multi-disciplinary approach and collective experience of developing systems that push the boundaries of engineering. The team applied their cutting-edge know-how to the development of the new analyser, enabling the creation of a design that would be smaller, cheaper and more capable than the existing solution. DE&S funding was sought and won via the BAE Systems Technology Demonstrator Programme to investigate and then develop a UK capability.

Full press release is available here.

It was also tweeted by Jonathon Amos at BBC.

"The expertise that went into @Philae_Ptolemy has led to air monitoring for UK submarines @BAESystemsInc" - Jonathan Amos @BBCAmos

Image tweeted by Jonathan Amos