Ministerial visit showcases Space Park Leicester’s industry boost

Space Park Leicester recently hosted Felicity Buchan MP, then Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, for a tour of Leicester’s space hub, where she saw first-hand how space research is helping industry make an impact on real-world challenges such as climate change.

Part of a visit to Leicester’s Pioneer Park, the former Minister had the opportunity to see how £19.4 million of Government investment, through the Levelling Up Fund, will support the city’s space and satellite technology sectors.

Opened in March this year, Space Park Leicester is driving world-leading research, inclusive education and deep public engagement in space and space-enabled sectors through close collaboration with industry.

The former Minister was welcomed to Space Park Leicester by Professor Sarah Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Science and Engineering, and Professor Richard Ambrosi, Executive Director of Space Park Leicester.

They then accompanied her on a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities for research, development and manufacturing at Space Park Leicester, developed by the University of Leicester in collaboration with local, national and international partners.

Among the facilities she had the opportunity to visit was EarthSense, a company spun out from the University’s research that was incubated as a small business in Dock and has since grown to be a major tenant at Space Park Leicester.

Also during the tour, the former Minister visited the new SPectroscopy for ENvironmental SEnsing Research (SPENSER) facility at the National Centre of Earth Observation, which is designed to measure reference spectra of atmospheric gases, such as ammonia, which will be used in observations by satellite instruments.

As well as negatively affecting plant biodiversity, ammonia has consequences for particle formation. In the atmosphere, ammonia is a precursor of secondary aerosols, which impact human health through penetration and absorption into the lungs and bloodstream.

The SPENSER facility contains a Bruker IFS 125HR spectrometer, which is able to measure high-resolution spectra in the near- to mid-infrared. Currently, high-resolution reference spectra for both pure and air-broadened ammonia are being measured.  These spectra will be analysed to derive more accurate spectroscopic line parameters, which will improve the ammonia concentrations retrieved from the satellite measurements.

Former Exchequer Secretary Felicity Buchan said: “It’s fantastic to see how our investment from the Levelling Up Fund will turbocharge growth in Leicester’s rapidly expanding space sector, encouraging innovative businesses to expand and grow in the city – just like at the Space Park, which I visited recently - creating high-skilled jobs of the future.”