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James Osborn




I am an Associate Professor and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow in the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, University of Durham, UK. My research is concerned with forecasting, modelling, measuring and mitigating the Earth’s atmospheric turbulence for free-space optical applications such as astronomy, free-space optical communications and satellite surveillance and tracking. This has led to several novel instrumentation packages deployed at some of the world’s premier observatories and many strong international collaborations.

  • Atmospheric Physics

    The Earth’s turbulent atmosphere has two detrimental effects on light propagation, i) the image appears to wobble and blurs, losing spatial information, and ii) the brightness varies, seen as twinkling and called scintillation, limiting the temporal photometric precision. My research is concerned with forecasting, modelling, measuring and mitigating this atmospheric turbulence.

  • Free-space Optical Communications

    The large bandwidth available from using visible light, as opposed to conventional radio communication, will enable 10-100 times higher data rates, helping us to meet demands for higher capacity data transmissions that societies around the world have become accustomed to, as well as to increase the volume of data retrieved from space science satellites used for Earth observation, inter-planetary and deep space missions. We specialise in modelling these complex links through atmospheric turbulence including the potential of Adaptive Optics correction.

  • Astronomical Instrumentation

    The full potential of ground based optical telescopes can only be realised with the careful application of sophisticated instrumentation. I am particularly interested in Adaptive Optics technologies for wide-field and high-contrast imaging and high-precision time-resolved photometry.

  • Space Surveillance and Tracking

    The detection, identification and tracking of objects in space (active satellites, debris, rocket bodies) is critical for the sustainable use of space for future generations. I develop innovative technology to accurately identify and track objects in space.