Riding the Wavelength 2016

View from Mullard Space Science Laboratory

View from Mullard Space Science Laboratory

Wavelength 2016, the Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Society’s annual conference for remote sensing students and early career scientists took place last week. The venue was the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) at Holmbury St. Mary, Surrey, whose two hundred year old main building is deceptively stately for a science lab – panelled and furnished with seasoned wood – and had a previous life as an orphanage amongst other things.

Pixalytics, who also sponsored the event, sent two delegates this year: Dr Louisa Reynolds and Catalin Cimpianu, our ERASMUS placement student.

The conference offers a strong scientific programme of keynotes, oral presentations and posters. Catalin gave an oral presentation on the research he has been doing during his placement with us, on ‘Monitoring Urban Sprawl Patterns in the Post-Socialist Romanian Cities Using LANDSAT Imagery’. His presentation seemed to go down well with other attendees, given the questions and feedback he received.

Overall, Catalin really enjoyed the conference and found the other delegates very friendly. He felt the student presentations and posters were based on solid research, and covered a diversity of work from missions to Mars through to expeditions in Antarctica for monitoring penguin colonies. They all proved the usefulness of remote sensing and photogrammetry, together with the need for monitoring features on the Earth to get a better understanding and support sustainable future development.

Both Pixalytics representatives acknowledged the presence of some impressive keynote speakers, particularly Professor Jan-Peter Muller, Head of Imaging Group at MSSL and Kathie Bowden, UK National Space Skills and Career Development Manager at the UK Space Agency. Louisa chaired the session on Vegetation Remote Sensing, but that was not her conference highlight.

As well as offering a strong scientific programme, Wavelength also offers a highly active social scene, and for Louisa the highlight was the tour round MSSL. Seeing high precision satellite electronics being built was exciting, and learning that soldering together two of the tiny hair like legs on a ball grid array by mistake could mean the failure of a sensor demonstrated the precision needed in satellite engineering.

Component for a solar wind analyser

Component for a solar wind analyser

On the tour Louisa also saw ‘in the flesh’ the work benches, sealed and unsealed, for making the components and their housings, to fit inside part of a solar wind analyser seen in the picture on the left. Ensuring dust and water are driven from sensor components is essential to avoid condensation and inaccuracies, something we are very aware of within our work. One of the most interesting things Louisa gained from the tour was the importance of materials science for satellite engineering, such as the indispensability of lead and the lightness of aluminium. She also enjoyed the impressive cuisine of the local restaurants!

The conference generated many ideas on the latest trends and updates in Earth observation, together with suggestions on how to develop skills professional qualifications in the field. The summary of the conference comes from Catalin who said:

‘Well organized conference, the venue, the food, social activities, the attention to details and the organizational skills of the hosts were unquestionable and they proved to be very welcoming and hospitable.‘

Well done to everyone involved in Wavelength 2016, we look forward to being involved again next year!

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