UCD spin-out company wins European Space Agency contract

Parameter Space will develop software to assess data returning from ESA’s Gaia satellite

Parameter Space, a new University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company, has secured an €800,000 contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The purpose of the project is to develop new software capable of exploiting the unprecedented volume of data returning to Earth from ESA’s Gaia satellite.

The satellite, which is fitted with the largest camera ever launched into Space, is on a five-year mission to measure the precise positions and luminosity of one billion stars and to discover thousands of planets.

Since July 2014 Gaia has made nearly 100 billion measurements with its one-billion pixel digital camera. Gaia’s database will eventually grow to one petabyte in size which is equivalent to about 200,000 DVDs worth of data.


Analysis of this data will result in the creation of a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way galaxy.

Parameter Space is being tasked with developing a portal to host analysis algorithms provided by the scientific community and develop specific tools for enhanced analysis and access to this data.

Parameter Space was established in 2014 by astrophysicists Professor Lorraine Hanlon and Dr Sheila McBreen as a spin-out from the UCD School of Physics.

They established the company following completion of the five-week UCD commercialisation bootcamp held at NovaUCD.

Prof Hanlon said the aim was to develop software tools that will provide additional capability for scientists and citizens to make use of this unique data set.

Dr McBreen added: “The data analytics skills we have developed over many years working on fundamental physics in the UCD Space Science group have enabled us to make a successful bid for this ESA contract.”

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times