In its Aerospace Science and Technology Research Center, has been set up on the Kuei-Jen Campus in Tainan, NCKU integrates aviation, aerospace, civil aviation, microelectromechanics and nanoelectromechanics in one. Equipped with a transonic wind tunnel, a Formosa tracking station and other technologies, it provides an excellent research site for those aspiring to a career in aerospace technology.

NCKU teams up with top US atmospheric research agency to build a next generation space weather monitoring and forecasting system

Aircraft, self-driving automobiles and ships are directed by global navigation satellite systems. To estimate the possible interferences and impacts to the satellite navigation as well as satellite-based communications, countries around the world are working actively in real-time space weather monitoring and forecasting.

The NCKU team, led by professor Charles Lin and assistant professor Chia-Hung Chen from the Department of Earth Sciences, is cooperating with the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and National Space Organization (NSPO) to build a next generation space weather system, which aims to carry out real-time ionospheric space weather monitoring and forecasting. It has the advantage of access to data provided by the recently launched FormoSat-7/COSMIC-2 mission (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate), which follows on from the successful FormoSat-3/COSMIC mission.

By using the ionosphere data collected by FormoSat-3, the system has already shown potential for providing short-range forecasts of the ionospheric plasma variations. As the number density of ionospheric plasma is one of the major sources of GNSS positioning error, knowledge of ionospheric plasma variations could help mitigate errors, making the navigation system more accurate. In the future, this could also be implemented for the next generation aviation guiding system that is currently under development intensively worldwide, and which is expect to enhance the efficiency of airport traffic control.


Successful launch for Japanese RISESat microsatellite project

In January 2019, after seven years of hard work and perseverance, the microsatellite mission RISESat – directed by Tohoku University of Japan and involving researchers from NCKU – successfully launched its Epsilon rocket from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The NCKU research team’s role is to direct airglow and upper-atmospheric lightning observation, and also to study space weather and the cycle of atmospheric electricity. The goal is to understand the relationship between lightning and extreme weather – which is having an increasingly severe impact on human life – and to understand the influence of changes in the space environment on space communication.

Professor Bing-Chih Chen’s research team was invited to join Tohoku University’s RISESat microsatellite project in 2011. They developed the Dual-Band Optical Transient Camera (DOTCam), a space optical camera that will enable the observation of space environment elements, such as airglow and upper-atmospheric lightning, once the satellite enters orbit. Relevant basic scientific research will be applicable to space weather-related research.

Professor Bing-Chih Chen stated that NCKU’s participation in the RISESat project demonstrates that NCKU’s space instrument research and development capabilities have reached international standards. Their performance will open up more opportunities for international collaboration, effectively enhancing Taiwan’s manufacturing technologies and international visibility, and assisting manufacturers in penetrating the international space industry.


NCKU doctoral student’s start-up wins international award

With his dreams of space and encouragement from his adviser Professor Jiun-Jih Miau, French doctoral student Jordan Vannitsen, at NCKU’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, co-founded the company ODYSSEUS Space in 2016, targeting the global space industry. To gain international exposure, he and two French colleagues entered the Space Exploration Masters in 2018, a contest held by the European Space Agency for entrepreneurs. Out of 132 proposals from 42 countries, the technological, managerial and commercial strategies of their business won first prize in the Space Challenge, presented by Luxembourg Space Agency. It is the most high-profile award of the contest and the team was granted €500,000 (£417,000) and invited to set up business in Luxembourg.

Professor Jiun-Jih Miau has encouraged many of NCKU’s local and foreign students to venture into the space industry but Dr Vannitsen’s is the only one to have really taken off. Professor Jiun-Jih Miau pointed out that many of the technologies Dr Vannitsen used in his award-winning solution are subjects that NCKU has been focusing on and studying for years.

Dr Vannitsen said that, based on the trends and development of the global small satellite market, he believes Asia will soon become one of the largest small satellite markets in the world, second only to the US. Not only is Taiwan the leader of the international semiconductor industry, but it also possesses considerable high-end aerospace equipment and technologies. Taiwan has the potential to become the leader of the Asian small satellite market, and this is why he and his colleagues decided to start their company here. He also revealed that ODYSSEUS Space is working with the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at NCKU on an electric propulsion system for small satellites. 

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