Easton joins forces with the European Space Agency

Easton joins forces with the European Space Agency

Posted on: 06 Jan 2022

The area has recently joined the European Space Agency (ESA) in a partnership that promises to offer the Young Citizen Scientists the opportunity to work with world-renowned academics.


The collaboration with the intergovernmental organisation is part of a £250,000 project, dubbed Saaf Hava (Urdu for clean air), and has been organised and led by St Marks Road Community Group.


In conjunction with Universities, Citizens and Community Groups, the Council of Bristol Mosques and RADE (Residents Against Dirty Energy) the community group formed Saaf Hava with the aim to bring a network of pollution sensors to Easton.


The initial goal was for 20 sites in Easton to monitor air pollution in real-time. After plans were delayed by Covid-19, however, the team put their efforts into talking to other sensors’ sources – hence the recent developments that have seen Easton join forces with organisation that is known as Europe’s gateway to space.

Easton now have the only ESA air quality sensor in the UK, one of 17 in the world. It's the latest in a unique set of tools measuring NO2, Particulates, CO2, Carbon Monoxide and Ammonia levels on St Marks Road.


The sensor will be paired with a Telraam Traffic counter, eventually giving real-time measurements of traffic and air pollution. A display on St Marks Road will mean that, for the first time, passers-by will be able to see the pollution on the road first-hand.


Saaf Hava is using the following sensors: Particulate Sensors via the Sensor Community, Traffic Sensors via Telraam, ESA Air Pollution Sensors, SEDI Air Pollution Sensors from the University of Bath and old smartphones repurposed as CCTV to capture events.


Sensor data will inform local Young Citizen Scientists working with researchers from four of the UK’s top universities as well as STEM ambassadors from Industry. 


The initiative, known as the ‘Easton Data Garden’, aims to generate a lifelong interest in science for these young people, specifically using information garnered from our immediate surroundings.

Several UWE teams will offer their services to the project, including the creation of a digital display to fill the window of the Community Kiosk on St Marks Road. 


The website behind the display comes from the university’s CAKE (Community Actions and Knowledge Exchange) team. 


The website will become an interactive digital newspaper incorporating the sensor results and the work of the Easton Data Garden into local community events and news as well as shopping information from St Marks Road.


While much of the work, premises and equipment is donated for free, this is a £250,000 project. The fact that Easton have been able to attract excellent resources such as the ESA sensor is testament to the industrious and driven nature of the St Marks Road community.


The partnership with the ESA promises to continue to provide plenty of exciting opportunities within this community. To get involved in the Easton Data Garden, contact Maryan Abdirahman via email.


To find out more about St Marks Road Community Group, head to their Facebook page.


Main image: Alex Garbutt (alex@365bristol.com)

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Article by:

Stanley Gray

Stan is a born and bred Bristolian, recently graduated from studying English Literature in Sheffield. His passions are music and literature and he spends the majority of his time in venues all over the city, immersing himself in Bristol’s alternative music scene. A lifelong Bristol City fan, Stan’s Saturdays are spent watching his team both home and away.