By Ian McConnell

A GLASGOW-BASED start-up specialising in advanced imaging technology hopes to send its cameras into space after securing support from the British Business Bank’s start up loans programme.

Metahelios, founded by physicists Charles Altuzarra and Yash Shah, has created a pioneering long-distance camera which can distinguish between different materials from a still image. The company’s founders are in talks with the UK Space Agency to join one of this year’s rocket launches from Britain, with the aim of proving the capabilities of the remote-imaging technology.

Mr Altuzarra, who is chief executive of Metahelios, said: “It has always been a dream to be involved in a space mission and the development of this imaging technology could soon see that become a reality. We have so far conducted a range of tests in labs and on the ground, but the evidence and data that could be collected via a satellite will be invaluable for growing the business and taking our cameras to the next stage.”

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The physicists recently each received a £25,000 loan through the British Business Bank’s start up loans programme, with the support of Transmit Startups.

The combined £50,000 of finance will enable them to invest in manufacturing and testing prototypes, and in expanding the team at Metahelios. Metasurfaces are engineered electromagnetic materials designed specifically for the way they impact radio, microwave, optical and acoustic waves.

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By capturing 100,000 frames per second and using metasurfaces to manipulate light passing through a material, Metahelios’s cameras can tell the difference between objects which, to the naked eye, would otherwise appear to be exactly the same in a still image.

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The cameras could be used in agriculture to monitor crops remotely, by climate scientists to look at cloud formations, or by the aerospace sector to monitor any orbiting space debris, Metahelios and the British Business Bank noted.

Mr Altuzarra said: “Scotland’s space and satellite technology scene is booming and we have spoken to a number of companies interested in trialling our imaging technology for a range of applications.”