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First ever Welsh-led EU space programme launched by Cardiff University

31 January 2013

spacekidsPrototype Kinetic Inductance Detector array manufactured at Cardiff University

Cardiff University has launched the first ever Welsh-led European Union (EU) space research programme, funded by a €2M award from the EU through its FP7 (Framework Programme 7) SPACE programme.

The three-year SPACEKIDS project will work to develop new detector technology for use in future space missions. The new detectors will be capable of working at extremely low temperatures and will be designed for use in future satellites for astronomy and for the study of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The project brings together some of the leading European institutes with expertise in detectors for far infrared wavelengths – a few hundred times longer than the wavelength of visible light.

Current far infrared detectors being used on board spacecraft are very difficult to manufacture and operate. Research carried out by Cardiff’s School of Physics and Astronomy to manufacture novel Kinetic Inductance Detectors (KIDs) offers a very real prospect of ultra-sensitive cameras which are easy to make and use.

Project Coordinator, Professor Matt Griffin of Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said:

"SPACEKIDS is a fantastic initiative for Cardiff University and for space science and technology in Wales.  With this project we aim to pave the way for a new generation of scientific instruments to gain a better understanding of the Universe, and of our own planet. 

"This is the first Welsh-led European Union space research programme, and it rests upon the cutting edge research carried out in the School of Physics and Astronomy, and the investments in staff and facilities that the University has made in recent years."

Lead researcher of the Cardiff SPACEKIDS team, and inventor of one variant of the KID detector, Dr. Simon Doyle of the School of Physics and Astronomy said:  "It is wonderful to get this project started.  With the expertise and state-of the art facilities of the team here at Cardiff and in our partner institutes, we are well placed to make a huge technical advance."

Ken Wood, Sales and Marketing Director of QMC Instruments Ltd., a Cardiff-based SME which is one of the project’s industrial partners, said:  "Besides the exciting scientific applications that it will enable, SPACEKIDS will open up new possibilities for commercial and industrial use. We will be delighted to participate in this programme, both in providing high-tech components to the research team and in enabling commercial exploitation of the results."

Scientists and industrialists from the Netherlands, France, and Spain gathered at the Cardiff University School of Physics and Astronomy for the project kick-off meeting on 28 and 29 January.


The SPACEKIDS project is a collaboration between Cardiff University, the Space Research Organisation of the Netherlands (SRON), Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, Institut Néel Grenoble, France, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain, Consejo Superior Investigaciones Cientificas, Spain, AimSys B.V., Netherlands, and QMC Instruments Ltd., Cardiff. The project is funded by a European Union Framework Programme 7 (FP7) grant in the topic Key technologies enabling observations in and from space.  The programme will be coordinated by Cardiff University.

Cardiff University                                                                   
For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Professor Matt Griffin
SPACEKIDS Project Coordinator

School of Physics and Astronomy

Cardiff University


Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 4203

Dr. Simon Doyle

School of Physics and Astronomy

Cardiff University

CF24 3AA


Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 6170

Mr Ken Wood
Sales and Marketing Director

QMC Instruments Ltd.

Cardiff University

CF24 3AA


Tel: 029 2044 4430

Dr Ian Walker

SPACEKIDS Project Manager

School of Physics and Astronomy

Cardiff University


Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 0173

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.  Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans. 

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences, and the humanities; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neuroscience and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.

Research Funding

Research is undertaken in all three of Cardiff University’s academic Colleges (groupings of Schools around disciplines), many of which have international reputations for excellence in their field. Research grants and contracts are obtained from a wide range of sponsoring organisations, including the UK Research Councils, charities, industry and commerce, UK Government departments, European bodies and overseas organisations.

In the financial year 2011-12, Cardiff University received £87.8M (€100M) in research awards, of which 17% (£15.3M/€17.4M) came from European sources. As of January 2013, Cardiff University is involved in 130 Framework Programme 7 (FP7) funded projects, with an estimated total EU funding of £45M/€51M, including 14 major multi-partner projects coordinated by the University and 9 European Research Council awards.

Further contacts

Lisa Birkbeck
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20 870 298