Wanted: innovative minds for Star Tiger

April 3, 2002

Paris, 02 April 2002

ESA is looking for 10 scientists to participate in Star Tiger, a new approach for conducting research and development (R&D) which aims to achieve a quantum increase in a promising technology - terahertz imaging in this case - within a short period of time.

Bring together a small group of highly motivated researchers, grant them full access to laboratory and production facilities, remove all administrative distractions, and let them work for an intense period of four to six months. That is what Star Tiger* is all about.

"We want to dramatically reduce the turnaround time for state-of-the art technology developments," says Niels Jensen, ESA's Head of Technology Programmes Department. "A small group of researchers and experts will be given the opportunity to concentrate solely on R&D. Everyday distractions and common administrative tasks will be removed. They will be able to try-out new ideas on the spot, make prototypes immediately and select or ignore new paths as soon as they have been tested. By creating a highly motivated team of researchers and experts and letting them work together in the same laboratory for an intense period with everything they could possibly require, we may create a synergy not attainable to the same extent in conventional R&D. This will provide a very real chance of a key scientific breakthrough in a technological area."

The Star Tiger pilot project aims to produce a compact colour terahertz imager using state-of-the-art micro-machining technology. It will operate in two frequencies, 250 GHz and 300 GHz, and will be used to produce pictures of natural terahertz wave emission.

Such an imager will provide information hidden in naturally emitted waves that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Space applications include astronomy, atmospheric physics, and Earth and environment monitoring by satellites. Other, non-space activities that could benefit from this technology include security surveillance, industrial process control and medical diagnostics.

"If we succeed in building the world's first terahertz imager operating in these frequencies, it would represent a true breakthrough for sub-millimetre-wave remote sensing from space. In the field of planetary and atmospheric sensing, linear arrays capable of simultaneously measuring height-resolved spectral features would have a major impact on issues such as climate change and ozone chemistry," says Peter de Maagt, ESA's Project Manager for Star Tiger.

The Star Tiger pilot project will take place at the CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in England from 3 June to 4 October 2002. To provide the maximum chance of success the Star Tiger team will have at their disposal the full resources of RAL's Space Science and Technology Department’s Central Microstructure Facility and Millimetre Wave Technology Group. A support team of approximately 30 engineers and scientist at RAL will also assist the Star Tiger team during the four months.

"The Star Tiger project promises to be extremely exciting. RAL has the largest space science department in Europe and some of the most highly regarded scientists and engineers, many of whom will be providing support to the Star Tiger team during their stay. With the right team recruited and the backing of my department, this project just has to succeed!" said Professor Richard Holdaway, Director of Space Science and Technology Department at RAL.

A colour terahertz imager will integrate such innovative technology areas as planar antenna technology, planar detector technology, micro machining technology, photonic band gap materials and miniaturised back-end electronics. Therefore, the Star Tiger team will include specialists in all these fields.

"We are now looking for the best scientists, researchers and experts to join the project. It is a great opportunity and an exciting challenge and we are quite confident that the Star Tiger concept will demonstrate a new method of doing R&D," explained Dr Chris Mann, the Project Manager at RAL.

Would you like to take part in this project? You should hurry as applications must be submitted before 15 April 2002.

For more information on this pioneering project and who to contact see the article on the ESA Industry Web Site.

* Star Tiger is an acronym for ‘Space Technology Advancements by Resourceful, Targeted and Innovative Groups of Experts and Researchers’, an activity under the European Space Agency's Basic Technology Research Programme to facilitate innovative and breakthrough research. Star Tiger is a pioneering ESA initiative in collaboration with the Space Science and Technology Department at CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, England.

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