Aberdeen University’s Invention, PACKMAN, to Be Launched to Space from the Shetland Space Centre

8th Jul 2020
Shetland Space Centre

Scientists from Aberdeen University that have been working on an instrument to use on future space missions are set to send it to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. The device was built with the ESA by the University’s Planetary Science Group, which is based in the School of Geosciences. This unique instrument dubbed PACKMAN (Particle Counter K-Index Magnetic Anomaly) will be launched on a balloon flight, where its ability to monitor radiation and other atmospheric conditions will be tested.

Shetland Space Center’s role in PACKMAN’s development

Before this device can be sent to space, it must be tested. It must fly to the stratosphere in a miniature ‘near space test bench’ or miniature laboratory suspended from a balloon. PACKMAN has been deployed twice from Spain and Sweden in two stratospheric balloon flights in readiness for the launch taking place at Spaceport Snowdonia. The fourth launch will be in July from the Shetland Space Centre. 

Professor Javier Martin-Torres, the chair of the Planetary Science Group, agrees that they have flown PACKMAN twice successfully, which means that their unique device can operate in space. He also adds that their partnership with B2Space and the Shetland Space Center will enable them to launch the device from the UK and thus obtain a set of measurements at an intermediate latitude for comparison with previous results. He hopes that through these flights and others in the future, his group can prove that PACKMAN can be applied in research and space exploration, and hopefully, in future, his group can create a planetary monitoring network of PACKMANs for Mars, Earth, and the Moon.

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