Strathclyde, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- October 2, 2008 - Plans are afoot to commercially produce a tiny, cheap satellite that could collect readings from electricity and gas meters.

According to the U.K.’s Channel 4 engineers at the University of Strathclyde are teaming up with Glasgow space company Clyde Space to develop the CubeSat satellite, with sides just 10 cm square and weighing no more than 1 kg. The device, which could cost as little as a thousandth of the cost of traditional satellites, would be launched by piggy-backing onto a larger satellite, and once in space would use fold-out solar panels as power source.

In August a team in the Department of Engineering at the University of Strathclyde led by Professor Colin McInnes, was awarded a two year 2 million euro grant from the European Research Council to investigate how the orbits of spacecraft could pave the way for new technologies and services, such as continuous environmental monitoring and increased space telecommunications capacity.

“This will include investigating the behavior of ‘smart dust’ swarms - clouds of micro-spacecraft able to communicate with each other,” says McInnes.

Currently the project is in the research stage, but a potential future application of such satellites is the collection and transmission of data, including metering data.