Dundee Satellite Station Ltd


Dundee Satellite Station Ltd is currently setting up premises at the former RAF Errol airfield and offers a range of services to the UK and International Space sector including reception and transmitting facilities in VHF, UHF, L-band, S-band, X-band and Ku-band as well as a range of consultancy services around this from RF through to data processing software, and integration to existing systems. We can provide quality support from your initial design phase looking at comms options and link budgets, through to "premium" ground station support (e.g. signal analysis and recording, orbit determination, etc) during critical phases such as LEOP or following anomalous behaviour, and on to cost-effective routine operations for data up and down links.

In addition to these spacecraft-operation support services we are now receiving Earth Observation data in real-time with a view to supporting both time-sensitive commercial applications as well as providing a broad range of archive data access for research and general public interest purposes.

Further down the line we are already in discussion with other organisations with a view to providing an integrated service offering greater geographic coverage over more of Europe and with additional benefit of multiple-site resilience.

Email address is: contact [at] DundeeSat.co.uk (other details will follow soon).

You can find our Latest Images
Also the local Weather Station

Antenna Plinths poured (24 Mar 2011)

We had the concrete plinths for antennas #1 and #4 poured with the help of local builders and the concrete supplier also on the former RAF Errol airfield. We decided to make the #1 plinth larger so we can accommodate antennas up to 5m in the future and still survive 120mph wind speeds, without needing any modifications of the foundations.

The image below shows this larger #1 plinth being poured along with the 3.7m antenna (#2) that is already in operation. It is planned these next two antennas will primary be for remote sensing / environmental monitoring.
Photo of the concrete truck pouring into the shuttering for #1 antenna plinth


Remote Sensing Images (30 Jan 2021) and Weather (08 Feb 2021)

We are now producing some latest images files from the weather satellites that are updated automatically. For now this free and open service is only providing the UK "overhead" images from the NOAA and METOP series of satellites carrying the AVHRR instrument, but we hope to extend the coverage and range of image data soon.

The site also has a local weather station that normally updates every half hour. User Ctrl+R to refresh if needed.

NOTE: The weather station equipment is not mounted according to the official requirements for wind measurement height (10m / 33 feet), or distance from tarmac for temperature, so we cannot guarantee the accuracy.


First Overhead Pass of 2021 (01 Jan 2021)

This infra-red images was taken by NOAA-19 on a south-bound pass, overhead at 07:51 on Friday 1st Jan 2021, which we re-projected to this 1024 x 1024 sized image (with the 5 degree grid lines and coast automatically overlaid). You can also get a 4k x 4k version which is 12MB and shows the resolution limit of the AVHRR scanner. However, it is still impressive for an instrument whose first design was flown in 1978 on the TIROS-N satellite!

Image from the NOAA-19 satellite showing the UK on New Year's Day


Terra 21st Birthday (18 Dec 2020)

The satellite Terra was launched on the 18th Dec 1999 and today has its 21st birthday, an unusually long time for any satellite to remain in operation. While the MODIS sensor is showing some signs of degradation and it has been largely replaced by the newer NPP and NOAA-20 birds, it is still worthy of note. This quick look-image was taken around 12:03 today and shows the weather features bearing down on the UK.

Image from the Terra satellite on its 21st birthday showing the UK


Errol Antennas (03 Dec 2020)

We have got to the stage of having two tracking antennas in routine operation. Here you can see those two antennas tracking, along with those still to be refurbished and put back in to service.

Image of the first two operational antennas at the RAF Errol site


First Pass from Errol (15 Sep 2020)

We were able to receiver our first images at the new RAF Errol site using our 3.7m antenna with the X-band feed formally used in Dundee. While we still have a long way to go to be fully operational, it is good to finally see something in return for our efforts and all of the support we have been getting.

The current 3.7m pedestal dates from 1997 (though the reflector is from 1975) and was constructed to allow DSRS to take data from the NASA EOS satellites Terra and Aqua which were eventually launched on December 18, 1999 and May 4, 2002 respectively. Both have far exceeded their planned 6 year mission life, though the sensor data is poorer now than when new.

The image was taken by the satellite Terra on a south-bound pass, starting at 11:44:19 and ending 11:58:37 UTC. What is shown below is a quick-look generated at a fraction of the satellite's full resolution.

So it is kind of fitting that the first public image taken by the new DSS Ltd should be from a satellite that the pedestal was originally built to service, and given that satellite is now almost 21 years old it is able to buy us a celebratory drink!

Image from the first overhead pass showing UK


DSS Ltd is one year old! (24 July 2020)

We are making progress on the new site and now have the equipment room wired for 3-phase power and hope to have antennas on concrete plinths within the next couple of weeks to allow for refurbishment and testing. There are still many small jobs to sort out and various key tasks have been delayed by the current pandemic, but we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

This web site, and the bigger task of resurrecting what was Scotland's only significant ground station, are still very much "work in progress" so please be patient with us!


Background

Dundee Satellite Station Ltd was formed in July 2019 by two of the former staff of the Dundee Satellite Receiving Station (DSRS) at the University of Dundee when it was closed following the withdrawal of NERC funding after over 40 years of operations.

The story behind this was covered well by The Register in these articles:
Over 40 years of service axed for the sake of £338,000
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
Jodrell Bank goes full UNESCO while Dundee awaits the decomissioners

Also very well covered in Spaceflight magazine Vol.61 No.6


Looking Forward

Subsequently we reached an agreement with the University to acquire the assets of the receiving station with the intention to set up a new site near Dundee to continue providing support to small satellite operators and to the vast community of former users of DSRS with the collection of Earth Observation data.

The former staff of the DSRS are deeply grateful to all of the people and organisations that have supported us over the years. More recently we are especially indebted to those who have contributed to the GoFundMe campaign to maintain public access to the Earth Observation data as well as those who have provided time, advice, and letters of support that have made any progress possible.

We are now making good progress towards our ambition of a new and better facility. Our planning application for the new site was granted in Feb 2020 and work started end of May 2020 (delayed by the COVID-19 lock-down). We are also grateful for the professional support of Keir + Co in the application process.

More recently we have some good news to report on how the Dundee Satellite Receiving Station might rise once more

Our plans are also covered in the GEO newsletter on page 19, available here: GEO Newsletter No.65 - March 2020 (13.5MB PDF document)

A progress update on our plans was covered in the GEO newsletter on page 10, available here: GEO Newsletter No.67 - September 2020 (11.5MB PDF document)


About Us

Neil Lonie and Paul Crawford worked at DSRS for 30 years prior to the creation of Dundee Satellite Station Ltd and have considerable experience in the design, construction, and operations of satellite ground stations. Over that period we and our former colleagues built not just the DSRS facility, but numerous other systems for other organisations world-wide for environments as diverse as Antarctica (both British and Italian Antarctic research facilities) thorough to Egypt (Food and Agriculture Organisation project). In addition we have supported various research and development projects for organisations such as ESA, Eumetsat, NASA and NOAA.

An example of an Earth Observation image that we received at DSRS (part of a larger image made famous by the newspaper coverage) is shown here, with the centre of the image being roughly where the new site is located:

Scotland covered in snow



Last updated 25 Mar 2021