Midlands Innovation Space Group explores the frontier of space data

MI Space Group Meeting May 2024

Representatives from across the Midlands Innovation (MI) partnership gathered at Keele University’s Digital Society Institute for the annual physical MI Space Group meeting.

The event brought together leading academics and early career researchers, encouraging collaboration and knowledge exchange in the topic of space data.

The growing significance of space data

Space data has become increasingly influential across various related disciplines, including Earth Observation, Astrophysics, and Planetary Science. With the proliferation of satellites and sophisticated space probes, vast amounts of data are now being transmitted back to Earth for analysis. However, this valuable resource is not always fully utilised due to the high cost and time-intensive nature of data analysis.

Midlands Innovation at the forefront

The workshop demonstrated how Midlands Innovation partners are working at the forefront of this emerging field. Colleagues from across the partnership shared insights into how they are utilising advanced data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to unlock the full potential of these data outputs across a wide range of applications, such as in transport, environmental monitoring, global food security and precision agriculture.

The group heard some of the latest research being generated by the Gaia mission from the European Space Agency (ESA), a mission that is creating a three-dimensional map of millions of stars throughout our Milky Way galaxy and beyond, and generating data that aims to tackle the important questions related to the origin, structure and evolutionary history of our galaxy. By leveraging the latest AI tools and cutting-edge techniques, researchers are on a journey to maximising the value derived from the many sources of space data.

Photo: ©ESA; Photo: ESA/Gaia/DPAC/K. Malhan
Gaia unravels two ancient streams of stars in the Milky Way Photo: ©ESA; Photo: ESA/Gaia/DPAC/K. Malhan

Insights from the meeting

Colleagues from the MI Space Group discussed various space data analysis methodologies, sparking thought-provoking conversations about data exploitation and security. As the field continues to evolve, collaborative efforts will play a crucial role in advancing our understanding of space and its data-driven possibilities.

Raphael Hirschi, Director of the Digital Society Institute at Keele University, expressed enthusiasm about the interdisciplinary discussions during the meeting: “It was great to see colleagues from diverse space-related fields sharing their insights. Our digital and data-focused innovation centre provided an ideal setting for this exchange of ideas.”

Sue Clayton, Deputy Director at Midlands Innovation said: “It’s encouraging to see the MI Space Group continue to develop research ideas together. This field holds exciting potential for collaboration, with such diverse expertise in space data across the partnership. With our unique capabilities, the partnership is well-positioned to capitalise on emerging opportunities, regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Published: 30 May 2025

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