Telespazio UK in Spain
The European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), based at Villanueva de la Cañada, near Madrid in Spain, hosts the Science Operations Centres (SOCs) for ESA’s astronomy/astrophysics and planetary missions, along with their scientific archives. Through the SOCs, archives and other activities, ESAC provides services to astronomical research projects worldwide.
Telespazio UK has numerous engineers and scientists working in many different areas at ESAC. We support major current astronomy and astrophysics missions such as Gaia and XMM, by developing software, calibrating the instrumentation and interpreting the scientific data. Our staff also work on the development and operations of the SOCs for a number of current and upcoming planetary and solar system probes including Mars Express, Bepi Colombo (Mercury), Solar Orbiter and JUICE (the Jupiter system).
For these (in different measures for each), we participate in the design and building of all the interfaces, software systems and procedures needed for operations, extensive testing of these systems (and of externally provided systems), monitoring the status and health of the probes, and planning the in-orbit observing schedules. We often play an important role in processing the data which results from the execution of the plans, and we take a leading role in making all the data available for the scientific community via online archives, and by a sophisticated infrastructure known as the Virtual Observatory.
In addition to the work performed by our staff for ESA's Science Directorate at ESAC, Telespazio UK employees also contribute to the SMOS earth observation project which is run from the site.
Telespazio UK has a long record of working at ESAC, starting from development and operation of the Infrared Space Observatory in the mid-1990s and including various important scientific spacecraft no longer operating, such as Herschel, Planck, Rosetta and Venus Express.
ESAC is the hub of Europe’s space research, and Telespazio UK staff have the luxury of getting sight of new data taken by some of the world’s most advanced space telescopes and probes. The site in Madrid is fairly small and retains an intimate, friendly atmosphere which makes for a pleasant and stimulating working environment with a number of extra-vocational activities, sports and clubs.