Scientists from Lancashire will be joining a space mission as founding members.

Blue Skies Space, based in London, has confirmed that scientists from 14 universities across the world, including the University of Central Lancashire, have joined its first space science mission, Twinkle.

The founding members include institutions from North America (Vanderbilt University, Ohio State University, University of Toronto), Asia-Pacific (Nanjing University, National Tsing Hua University, University of Southern Queensland) and Europe (Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Cardiff University and UCLan).

These founding members are now working together to design a powerful scientific programme ahead of the satellite launch. They join five other institutions who have also secured telescope time for their research teams.

Professor Derek Ward Thompson said: "The Twinkle Space Mission offers some very exciting scientific possibilities. I am particularly fascinated by the prospect that we will be able to study the atmospheres of planets around other stars.

"This offers the opportunity to tell whether a particular planet is earth-like and potentially habitable or not, thereby increasing our ability to assess the likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe.”

Once launched into low-earth orbit in 2024, the Twinkle satellite will deliver visible and infrared spectroscopy of thousands of targets, enabling members to produce transformative research on exoplanet atmospheres, solar system objects, stars and stellar discs as they aim to answer some of humanity’s greatest questions.

Twinkle will provide structured science surveys which will operate at a large scale, providing more than 70,000 hours of observational data during its lifetime.

Twinkle is the first in a series of scientific satellites from Blue Skies Space.