News & Events

Tim Peake launches NCEO’s new HQ at Space Park Leicester

UK astronaut Tim Peake officially opened Leicester’s pioneering space research, innovation and teaching cluster, Space Park Leicester, at a special ceremony on Monday 14 March. Space Park Leicester (SPL) is the new headquarters of NCEO and is home to several new state-of-the art laboratories for NCEO.

At NCEO, the research programmes are designed to tackle today’s greatest environmental challenges by transforming science and innovation, using cutting-edge technology, which are linked to major Earth Observation (EO) satellite missions.

SPL Opening Ceremony

Major Tim Peake, the first British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS) declared Space Park Leicester open in the company of (L to R) Sir Peter Soulsby, Leicester City Mayor; Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor at University of Leicester; Professor Sarah Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Science and Engineering at the University of Leicester; Major Tim Peake; Professor Richard Ambrosi, Executive Director of Space Park Leicester; George Freeman MP, Science Minister.


Professor John Remedios, NCEO Director, said: 

‘It’s such an exciting time to be part of this moment at the start of this thriving space-led research hub. The University of Leicester has taken a bold step in bringing academic and industrialists together in one building and it is a significant development for NCEO to have its first purpose-built HQ at the heart of this venture. NCEO brings world-leading scientists from across the country, many of whom are engaged in science-driven activities that reflect the growth of environmentally-led Earth Observation and space-enabled technology communities across the UK.’


Major Tim Peake and Professor John Remedios

Professor John Remedios welcomes Tim Peake to the NCEO office and laboratories.


Major Tim Peake said, speaking to the University of Leicester:

‘Every successful space mission calls for experts from a wide range of backgrounds to pull together and collaborate to answer bigger questions: and that’s exactly what somewhere like Space Park Leicester helps to provide.’


Neil Humpage and Tim Peake

Dr Neil Humpage gave VIP guests a tour of selected NCEO Earth Observation laboratory facilities.

NCEO at SPL research hub

Key research at NCEO’s SPL hub includes:

  • mapping land temperature trends from space
  • diagnosing pollution and urban air quality
  • understanding clouds and precipitation
  • remote sensing of atmospheric gases including greenhouse gases
  • developing innovative equipment and sensors for Earth Observation platforms

The new hub includes facilities for field instruments for land surface temperature and atmospheric gases; a laboratory for high resolution molecular spectroscopy; instruments for drones; projection facilities for interactive development of new EO systems.

NCEO research programme includes the remote sensing of atmospheric gases including greenhouse gases such as methane.


NCEO Staff at the opening of Space Park Leicester 14 March 2020

NCEO at Space Park Leicester employs over 50 staff, which includes academics, researchers, PhD students and directorate support staff.

SPL Opening Day Activities

The day’s events included tours of the building’s facilities, activities for local school children and an evening of talks, including an expert discussion panel with support from NCEO directors from across the country.

NCEO’s Dr Rob Parker joined the discussion panel, with Tim Peake, Lord Willetts and other experts, to discuss ‘What can space science and technology do for us?’


NCEO schools' STEM activities

NCEO staff, led by Catherine Fitzsimons, delivered a selection of STEM activities, to demonstrate aspects of Earth Observation, to around 60 schoolchildren from Belgrave St Peters Church of England Primary School and Wolsey House Primary School.

About Space Park Leicester

Developed by the University of Leicester in collaboration with local, national and international partners, the 9700m2 building provides an inspirational base for space researchers and business minds to collaboratively work together from offices, shared laboratories, teaching facilities and co-working spaces.

The project builds on the University of Leicester’s 61-year history of space research and its role in establishing the neighbouring National Space Centre, and places Leicester at the forefront of space technology in the UK.

NCEO’s HQ and facilities at SPL were supported by £2 million of funding from NERC, part of UKRI, with matching money from the University of Leicester.