Contact Professor Stephen Hobbs

Areas of expertise

  • Instrumentation, Sensors and Measurement Science
  • Space Systems
  • Systems Engineering


Steve's academic training is in mathematics and experimental physics (Cambridge University, 1st class), then ecological physics (instrumentation and atmospheric physics; Cranfield Institute of Technology).

His research covers space systems and radar Earth observation. He recently led the European Space Agency study Hydroterra, a geosynchronous radar mission proposal to address science needs for the water cycle. Hydroterra was one of three candidates for ESA's 10th Earth Explorer mission. Research projects have included international field campaigns in US and Europe, involving ground-based and airborne measurement systems to study insect migration, land-surface / atmosphere interactions, and measurement physics for remote sensing. Another research area concerns the sustainability of space systems. He led the Cranfield University development of deorbit devices based on drag augmentation, which resulted in three successful payloads in orbit, including the first operational deployment of a drag-augmentation device in orbit. He has extensive practical experience including software development, electronics, signal processing, field experiments, and satellite payload design.

Steve has been involved in teaching space engineering subjects at postgraduate level for over 30 years, with experience running the MSc in Astronautics and Space Engineering as well as doctoral research student supervision. He is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Qualifications include membership of professional societies in physics, meteorology and remote sensing.

He was funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering for an Industry Secondment to Airbus, works as the UK representative for design engineering to the ISO committee for Space Systems and Operations (ISO TC20/SC14), and is chair of the Space Academic Network's working group on Space Engineering and Technology.

Current activities

Academic interests / expertise include:

  • Space system engineering
  • Measurement physics and signal processing - especially for space sensor systems such as radar
  • Radar and Earth observation applications
  • Environmental applications - land surface and atmosphere in particular.

Current research projects:

  • Geosynchronous synthetic aperture radar (GEO SAR), Hydroterra mission development
  • Sustainable space - space debris mitigation and remediation
  • Low-cost de-orbit systems for small satellites (e.g. TechDemoSat-1 and ESA's ESEO mission).


His research sponsors include:

  • UK research councils
  • European Union
  • European Space Agency
  • BNSC / UK Space Agency
  • UK Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation
  • Royal Society
  • US Department of Agriculture
  • UK space industry: SSTL, NPA Fugro, EADS Astrium


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers