MSc EEE Student Gianni Heung awarded Croucher Foundation Grant for near space solar telescope ‘SunbYte’ project with NASA

From left: Prof. SC Chan (MSc EEE Program Director), Dr. Wilton Fok (Gianni’s HKU project supervisor), Ms. Gianni Heung (the scholarship awardee), and Prof. KT Chau (Head of EEE)

MSc EEE Student Ms Gianni Heung received a grant of HKD 50,000 from Croucher Foundation to support her MSc Capstone project supervised by Dr. Wilton Fok. This capstone project is part of the near space project titled Sheffield University Nova Balloon Lifted Telescope (SunbYte). SunbYte is a University of Sheffield student project which aims to develop innovative, low-cost, high-quality, space-based solar astronomy initially proposed by Dr Viktor Fedun (Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering) and Mr Yun Hang Cho, a PhD student, from the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering. The grant will support Gianni’s efforts to design and construct a solar telescope system with the Team. SunbYte is a student-led project with 20 Engineering and astrophysics students across the UK. As a bachelor graduate of University of Sheffield, Gianni was invited to participate and use the project as her MSc Capstone project. Together, they aim to design a low budget telescope and focusing system that replaces the current rocket-based technology.

Launching the balloon to the space, carrying the SunbYte Ver1.0 in Oct 2017

The SunbYte team members (Gianni on the 2nd left on the front row with the project leader Yun-Hang Cho on her right)

The project first began in 2016 in cooperation with the European Space Agency and its partners, REXUS/BEXUS ( A telescope at high altitude can drastically reduce the cost of solar images. These images are key to understanding the Sun and the prediction of solar flares, which affect modern telecommunication and navigation systems. Traditional methods require large Earth-based observatories or space telescopes is a high investment. Gianni, together with other members of SunbYte team of undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students, travelled to Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) Esrange Space Center to launch their telescope into upper layer of the Earth atmosphere in October 2017. The experiment was launched on Friday 20th October 2017 and the results of these were published recently in April 2018 at the European Space Agency second symposium on Space Educational Activities.

Supported by the Croucher Foundation, Gianni attended at the conference and demonstrated this new concept for High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) missions by replicating the key components of the electronic design in a flat pack manner on the wall, giving conference delegates a “hands-on” experience.

Gianni presenting her work alongside project leader at the Second Symposium on Space Educational


Following this, the team welcomed Gianni to Sheffield, where she trained new electronics team members and participated in a concurrent engineering design session to study alternative gimbal designs according to HASP flight requirements.

Gianni in a concurrent design engineering session to meet NASA requirements

Supported by Croucher Foundation, she will now represent Hong Kong and attend the following overseas missions as electronics team leader:

  1. Thermal vacuum testing (July 2018)
  2. Launching and operating the SunbYte experiment with the team in New Mexico, USA (September 2018)


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