UK’s TopSat wins a science ‘Oscar’

A British-built spy in the sky has won top space award in a US science equivalent of the Oscars. TopSat, which is producing high-resolution images of the Earth’s surface, was named Aviation and Space Grand Award Winner at a ceremony in New York on Monday night.

TopSat image of DartfordThe accolade was one of the 2006 Best of What’s New Awards made by Popular Science magazine. It recognises the micro-satellite’s potential to change space reconnaissance technology.

TopSat, which was launched in October last year from Northern Russia, was designed and built by Surrey Satellite Technology, of Guildford, for a consortium led by QinetiQ of Farnborough, Surrey.

It was funded by the MoD and British National Space Centre and is designed to help discover minerals and oil as well as aid relief teams at disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

The micro-satellite is seen as revolutionary because it is the size of a small washing machine, weighing just 264 lb (120kg) and cost less than £14 million – cheap in space terms.

Mark Jannot, editor of Popular Science, said his team had sifted through thousands of entries before picking TopSat as winner. He added: “These awards honour innovations that not only influence the way we live today, but that change the way we think about the future.”

The photo is an early TopSat image of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford, Kent.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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