The University of Auckland is committed to pioneering innovative research – expanding our innovative capacities to the frontiers of space is no exception. As New Zealand starts to define its place in the upcoming space boom, we are ensuring that researchers and students are equipped with the knowledge to participate in an industry that will have a strong impact on our technological, economic, and social future.

Here are the space systems projects and activities that we are currently pursuing.

Synthetic Aperture Radar Technology Development

Our academic staff won contestable funding from the Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge to develop novel miniature synthetic aperture radar hardware and software for small satellites. A growing research group involves support from MBIE, ANU and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Micropropulsion Technology Development

We are working with collaborators at the Space Physics, Plasma and Propulsion Laboratory at Australian National University (ANU) and Stanford University, USA to develop and test novel miniature satellite electric propulsion systems. Our work includes improving the Technology Readiness Level of ANU’s Pocket Rocket to enable the first space flight of this propulsion system on a 1U CubeSat.

Materials Science for Sample Return

The University of Auckland is leveraging existing national expertise in light metals technology to develop new materials for ablation and thermal insulation to enable satellite sample return missions. We are also developing microfluidics devices for chemical processing in space.

Astronomical Observations

We have proposed a collaboration with the University of Warsaw to design and build a CubeSat space telescope to observe the fast, bright ultraviolet Universe. This region of the electromagnetic spectrum is under-investigated, and holds significant opportunities for advancements in small satellite observational astronomy and technological development.

Astrobiology Research

The University of Auckland possesses deep expertise in investigating life under extreme conditions and the origins of life on Earth. We will extend our research activities to investigate how different forms of life can survive in space, including the effects of radiation and thermal cycling. We are also researching the development of equipment and sensors to detect, and measure the signs of life.