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Enabling & Support

Implemented OSIP ideas — July 2020

19/08/2020 214 views 2 likes
ESA / Enabling & Support / Preparing for the Future / Discovery and Preparation

ESA's Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP) seeks novel ideas for new space research activities. Campaigns and Channels invite solutions to specific problems or ideas on more general topics, with those run by Discovery & Preparation, including the Open Discovery Ideas Channel, specifically looking for ideas that could be implemented as system studies, early technology developments, or PhD or postdoc research co-funded by ESA and a university.

In July 2020, the following ideas were implemented through the Open Discovery Ideas Channel:

Lunar regolith interactions with environments and robotic systems

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

This co-funded PhD project aims to assess the survival of exploration systems on the dusty surface of the Moon and asteroids, including characterising the interactions between dust particles and between dust particles and surfaces. This will improve future missions to the surfaces of these bodies.

Using machine-learning to characterise failures of spaceborne atomic clocks

Delft University of Technology

Recent advances in the fields of big data and machine learning enable the use of large sets of sensor data coupled with test data to better understand the behaviour of components in operations and predict their failure rates. This co-sponsored PhD project will apply this method to better characterise failures in the atomic clocks on board ESA's Galileo navigation satellites.

A key to 5G and 6G flexible space connection: antenna butler-like multiple beam forming

Delft University of Technology

With the advent of 5G and 6G, future space communications will need more flexibility, frequency re-use and power efficiency in space and on the ground. This early technology development activity aims to demonstrate a new concept that improves communications between satellites to users.

Bio-inspired 3D printed structures from liquid crystal polymers for space applications

Delft University of Technology


3D printing makes it possible to produce unique parts quickly and cheaply by depositing beads of a molten polymer. This co-sponsored PhD project will look into whether liquid crystal polymers can be digitally designed and fabricated into the intricate, ingenious designs found in nature to improve the mechanical performance of space structures.

Study of inflatable devices to employ atmospheric drag for orbital manoeuvres at planetary arrival


Missions to Mars and Venus can make use of a technique called aerobraking to save considerable amounts of fuel. Manoeuvres in excess of several thousands of metres per second can be replaced by aerobraking to allow probes to achieve their final operational orbit around a planet. This study proposes to design a device in the shape of an umbrella with a tube to provide stiffness, similar to kites used for surfing. The device would be mounted on a boom away from the spacecraft body to provide aerodynamic stability and ensure safety.

The following ideas were implemented through the OSIP Remote Sensing of Plastic Marine Litter Campaign:

A full-range plastic marine litter monitoring service to support cleaning and littering reduction actions by mapping hotspots, pathways and littering source

Collecte Localisation Satellites

Plastic waste that enters the ocean is distributed unevenly around the world by ocean currents. This early technology development activity aims to develop three innovative components that together will make up a full-range monitoring system of plastic space debris, from determining the sources of litter to discovering hotspots and identifying pathways.


Tackling the plastic debris challenge at its source – linking Earth observation data with multi-source in-situ data for modelling debris pathways from source to sink

Remote Sensing Solutions

Monitoring areas closer to plastic marine litter sources such as rivers and estuaries has the potential to improve mitigation strategies. The goal of this early technology development activity is to model macroplastic transport from a major through its delta, and the movement of the plastic as the freshwater river plume spreads along the coastline and into the open ocean. In particular, the research will focus on the River Po in Italy.