SnT is the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust. It conducts internationally competitive research in information and communication technology, which has been proven to boost the world’s socio-economic prosperity.
Since launching in 2009, SnT has undergone rapid expansion. It has recruited top scientists, launched more than 90 European Union and European Space Agency projects, and created a Technology Transfer Office. Its staff of around 360 people are dedicated to developing intellectual property within a dynamic research environment.
Recently, a new agreement was reached between SnT and SES to create a joint laboratory that will conduct cutting edge research into high-throughput satellite systems. These next generation communications networks include the potential for quantum communications and cybersecurity.
Beyond the lab, SnT and SES are collaborating to use Luxembourg’s supercomputer MeluXina to test algorithms for radio resource allocation that will maximise the efficiency of future communications systems.
As well as developing the next generation of space hardware, SnT is also dedicated to training the next generation of space professionals. The Interdisciplinary Space Master (ISM) qualification features both technological and business lectures from experienced academic staff and external experts from the commercial space sector.
Developed in collaboration with the Luxembourg Space Agency, the ISM programme takes a project-based learning approach that is designed in collaboration with the country’s space industry. This takes students out of the classroom and into the labs, which form the heart of SnT.
The Zero-G Lab allows students and researchers to test the movement of robotics, satellites and other spacecraft in a microgravity environment similar to that found in orbit. On Earth, gravity is a stabilising influence but in orbit, a small push could start spacecraft tumbling. Being able to practise spacecraft control in this unique environment provides students with a unique understanding of the challenges they will face when designing and operating spacecraft for use in real life.
SnT also boasts the LunaLab. This facility is a large room, 11x7metres in dimension, that contains 20 tons of basalt. A cinema lamp is suspended from a ceiling rail that allows the amount of light and the angle of its incidence to be chosen at will. As the name suggests the LunaLab simulates the surface of the Moon, with the light mounted in such a way as to simulate conditions in the polar regions of the barren world. It is here, near the Moon’s south pole, that the majority of future landings – both robotic and human – are expected to be made because there is evidence for an abundance of water ice in this area.
The experiments performed in the LunaLab focus on the development of autonomous navigation for lunar rovers, and other robotic controls such as the use of robotic arms, or drills, manipulation and transportation.
The history of space exploration has shown quite clearly that groundbreaking innovations in satellite technology and operation have changed the way we now use space. It has paved the way for a greater-than-ever commercial use of space that is only set to increase.
To thrive in this ‘new space’ economy, the commercial space sector is in need of a constant replenishment of professionals able to manage both the technical and the business side of space missions and operations.
SnT at the University of Luxembourg is determined to help supply these professionals, and blaze the trail into the future.