UK Earth observation technologies improved with £9 million funding

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

The £9 million, provided by the Center for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI), will support twelve projects that will monitor Earth’s atmosphere and measure critical emissions.

This doubles the program’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 allow decision makers to coordinate more effective responses, which would represent an important 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, supported by £9 million of government funding, will play a key role in our efforts to tackle climate change, by where emissions are the highest on our planet and strengthens the UK’s leadership in Earth observation, while helping to attract more private investment into this fast-growing sector.”

Funding will be boosted with an additional £2 million from the academic and private sectors.

Britain is a world leader in Earth observation

Britain has committed £314 million to Earth observation as part of a record £1.8 billion investment in the European Space Agency.

Last month, two UK projects were shortlisted by ESA in the latest round of its Earth Explorers programme, aimed at supporting the most innovative satellite missions monitoring the environment.

Among the projects that received funding was Hydroterra+, which would be placed in geostationary orbit to provide twice-daily data on water cycles and tectonic events in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, and Keystone.

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

CEOI projects

The projects that will 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) (£1 million) – 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 expandable 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 (£1.7 million) – 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
  • Extension of GNSS-R for HydroGNSS Constellation (£250,000) – Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd with support from the University of Nottingham and the 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 sciences (£250,000) – STFC RAL Space with support from the University of Leeds
  • Evaluation of new design for reduced dark current in VLWIR MCT arrays (£67,000) – Leonardo UK
  • EO-APU: Prototyping for an AI-powered 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 more information about the projects.