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Dr Keith Ryden is a Reader in Space Engineering at the University of Surrey

After graduating with a First in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Bath in 1986, Dr Ryden joined the UK Ministry of Defence to carry out research into improving the effectiveness and survivability of military satellites. As part of this he led the design, construction and launch of the 50kg STRV1a research satellite which performed its mission successfully from 1994-1999. In parallel Dr Ryden completed an MSc in Satellite Engineering at the University of Surrey, graduating with a Distinction.

Dr Ryden has a particular interest in the effects of space weather on operational spacecraft (and aircraft), especially electrostatic phenomena and also single event effects. He has been involved in a number of European Space Agency projects to develop new models of charging processes and have invented and flown novel instruments to measure and investigate such issues both in-orbit (e.g. the ‘SURF’ in-flight monitor) and within the atmosphere (aircraft based monitors).

In 2007 Dr Ryden was appointed to the position of Technical Fellow at QinetiQ (a spin-out from MoD) while leading a team dedicated to radiation environments and effects on technology. In 2012 he became a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering study team looking into Extreme Space Weather which reported in 2013. Soon thereafter Dr Ryden took up his current post at the University of Surrey as Reader in Space Engineering.

Dr Ryden is currently a member of the the UK Space Environment Impact Expert Group (SEIEG), which advises the UK Government on space weather risks, and of the Cosmic Ray Advisory Group (CRAG) which focuses on aviation-specific risks. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the IET.

Research interests

Space Environment and Protection

Spacecraft must operate in a dynamic and hostile radiation environment which can interfere with, and sometimes damage, on-board technologies and systems. For astronauts and space tourists the radiation can even be life-threatening. Furthermore, radiation from space can penetrate deep down into the Earth’s atmosphere where, once again, it can present problems for airborne (and sometimes even terrestrial) electronic systems and deliver radiation doses to passengers and crew. We seek to measure, understand and quantify these effects and propose solutions to improve the reliability and safety of both spacecraft and aircraft.

We work on the following areas:

  • Space Radiation and Space Weather Measurements
  • Space Radiation Models
  • Engineering Effects of Space Weather
  • Atmospheric Radiation and Effects on Aircraft