• UK invests in climate monitoring projects

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UK invests in climate monitoring projects

May 31 2024

The UK Space Agency has invested £9 million into an early-stage technology programme aimed at enhancing the UK’s Earth observation technologies. The funding, delivered by the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI) will support 12 projects capable of monitoring the Earth’s atmosphere, measuring critical emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen dioxide. This doubles the programme’s previous largest funding round.  

Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Space at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said: “This exciting new generation of satellite instruments, backed by £9 million in government funding, will play a key part in our efforts to tackle climate change, pinpointing where emissions are highest on our planet and cementing UK leadership in Earth observation, while helping to attract more private investment into this fast-growing sector.”

Beth Greenaway, Head of Earth Observation and Climate at the UK Space Agency, added: “These new projects highlight the strength and diversity of UK expertise in both universities and companies across the UK – they are at the cutting edge of inventing the newest tools and techniques. The 16th CEOI call shows that we are ready to match the commitment of the UK space sector to ensuring the Earth observation capabilities stay at the forefront of the global demand.”

The UK has pledged £314 million to Earth observation programmes as part of a record £1.8 billion investment in the European Space Agency (ESA). 

Two of the shortlisted projects, which have both received funding previously from the CEOI are Hydroterra+, which would be placed in geostationary orbit to give data twice a day on water cycles and tectonic events over Europe, the Mediterranean and north Africa, and Keystone, which would provide the first direct observations of atomic oxygen at 50 to 150km altitude to help scientists examine the impact of solar cycles and space weather on particular regions of our atmosphere. 

The Earth Explorers programme includes missions such as the European-Japanese Earthcare, focused on improve the reliability of climate predictions and weather forecasts. More than a decade in the making, EarthCARE has significant UK contributions from Airbus Defence & Space UK, Surrey Satellite Technology, Thales Alenia Space UK, RAL Space, Teledyne e2v, GMV-UK, Telespazio UK, CGI UK and several British universities.

Other upcoming missions include Biomass which is being built in the UK by Airbus to provide crucial information about the state of forests and how they are changing. The £9 million CEOI pot will be bolstered with more than £2 million additional funding from the academic and private sectors. 

Nicolas Leveque, Director of the CEOI, said: “This additional funding from the UK Space Agency demonstrates its continued support for the development of high-end remote-sensing technologies. These technologies will fill many gaps in our observing capabilities and help better understand some of the more complex processes driving the Earth climate and environment. This funding round will act as an accelerator, bringing the launch of new instruments forward by several years.  

“We also welcome the responsiveness of the research, academic and industrial community, who have put together ambitious work plans to match the level of investment.”

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