NUI Galway has secured funding of €500,000 from the European Space Agency for a new ash cloud research project.

The Agency has invested over €2 million in an "ash cloud detection and forecasting system", which also involves the Irish Aviation Authority.

The ESA initiative aims to avoid a repeat of the travel chaos at airports in late 2010 and early 2011 as a result of the ash cloud that swept across Europe following a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

At the height of the crisis, Irish air space was closed for several days leaving thousands of passengers stranded.