UK’s Earth observation technologies enhanced with £9m funding

The UK Space Agency has announced its largest investment into an early-stage technology programme to improve the UK’s Earth observation technologies.

Delivered by the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI), the £9m will support 12 projects that will monitor Earth’s atmosphere and measure critical emissions.

This doubles the programme’s previous largest funding round.

The new technologies, with their potential to provide a clearer picture of high-emission activities and incidents, offer a beacon of hope in our fight against climate change.

They could enable decision-makers to coordinate more effective responses, marking a significant step forward in our efforts.

Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Space at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said: “This exciting new generation of satellite instruments, backed by £9m 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.”

The funding will be bolstered with an additional £2m from the academic and private sectors.

The UK is a world leader in Earth observation

The UK has pledged £314m to Earth observation as part of a record £1.8bn investment in the European Space Agency.

Last month, two UK projects were shortlisted by ESA in the latest round of its Earth Explorers programme, dedicated to backing the most innovative satellite missions that monitor the environment.

One of the projects that received funding was 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.

The satellite would provide the first direct observations of atomic oxygen at 50 to 150km altitude. The project will allow scientists to examine the impact of solar cycles and space weather on certain regions of the atmosphere.

CEOI projects

The projects set to include CEOI funding are:

  • CITISCAN Payload Development (£1.15m) – Thales-Alenia Space UK with support from the University of Leicester
  • Cold Atom Interferometry Thermosphere Drag Measurement (CAITDM) (£1m) – STFC-RAL with support from the University of Nottingham and Metamorphic Additive Manufacturing Ltd
  • SOLSTICE: Solar Occultation Limb Sounding Transformative Instruments for Climate Exploration (£2.3m) – STFC-RAL with support from Bright Ascension and Open Cosmos
  • Prototyping an unfolding space telescope for a small satellite platform (£900,000) – Super-Sharp Space Systems with support from In-Space Missions Ltd
  • The Near Infrared Multispectral Camera for Atmospheric Methane (NIMCAM): Instrument demonstration and space mission development (£1.7m) – the University of Edinburgh with support from STFC-UKATC (UK Astronomy Technology Centre), NPL (National Physical Laboratory)
  • Hyperspectral Chroma-D Instrument (HERCHI) Payload Development (£900,000) – Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, with support from Pixalytics Ltd
  • Expanding GNSS-R for HydroGNSS Constellation (£250,000) – Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd with support from the University of Nottingham and National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
  • Umbrella Radiation Monitor: Phase 2 Demonstration Model Development (£250,000) – Umbrella Space Science Ltd with support from BGHTECH Ltd and Leese SPM Ltd
  • 5 THz Receiver Breadboard for Upper Atmosphere Science (£250,000) – STFC RAL Space with support from the University of Leeds
  • Evaluation of Novel Design for reduced dark current in VLWIR MCT arrays (£67,000) – Leonardo UK
  • EO-APU: Prototype Development for an AI-Driven EO Processing Unit (£75,000) – Surrey AI Imaging Ltd with support from Blue Sky Imaging Ltd
  • High-accuracy Magnetometer for Space Weather Instrumentation (HMSWI) (£65,000) – STFC RAL Space with support from the British Geological Survey (BGS), University of Strathclyde and Iota Technology Ltd

Click here for further information on the projects.

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