2011 Tycho Brahe Award

Presented to: Dr. Martin J. Unwin

Citation: For pioneering the development of low-cost GNSS receiver technology for spaceborne navigation and remote sensing.


Dr. Martin J. Unwin pioneered GPS-based autonomous navigation on the PoSAT-1 microsatellite launched in 1993 and has since paved the way for numerous and diverse applications of Global Navigation Satellite Systems in space. He led the design of SSTL's Space GPS Receiver (SGR) series which first demonstrated the feasibility of using commercial-off-the-shelf receiver technology in space and has since then found widespread application in European, American, and international small satellite projects. In a fruitful symbiosis of entrepreneurship and collaboration with academia, Dr. Unwin has led the development of ever more advanced GNSS instrumentation and enabled new and innovative applications. Key achievements include the flight demonstration of GPS based attitude determination on the UoSat-12 satellite in 1999 and the successful collection of reflected GPS signals for ocean surface characterization onboard the UK Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) satellite in 2003. In parallel to his sp aceborne GNSS receiver developments, Dr. Unwin has made substantial contributions to the conception and realization of GIOVE-A, Europe's first Galileo test satellite that was launched in 2005 and has now successfully operated in orbit for more than five years. GIOVE-A also carries another less well known experiment of his, namely a GPS receiver specifically designed to track weak signals as received on high altitude platforms.

More recently, Dr. Unwin has expanded his research into the development of multi-frequency, multi-constellation frequency receivers to satisfy the growing demand for precise orbit determination and to advanced receiver technology for scientific research. His latest product, the SGR-ReSI (Remote Sensing Instrument) will support both reflectometry and radio occultation remote sensing applications and is about to receive its flight qualification onboard the upcoming TechDemoSat-1 mission. It provides a highly-configurable platform for a wide range of experiments and offers innovative features such as the on-the-fly generation of delay-Doppler maps. Once again, Dr. Unwin is set to lead the crowd with this development and moves ahead to realize his vision of global ocean monitoring from low cost satellite constellations using "parasitic" GNSS signal reflections.