Airbus has been awarded a contract to prepare a mission to collect the most accurate measurements of energy coming into the Earth from the Sun, and light reflected off Earth’s surface, to help understand changes in balance (global warming) and mankind’s impact on the planet.
The mission will not only make measurements itself, but also improve the performance of other missions through calibration from space, becoming a new ‘gold standard’ reference for climate measurements.
The contract is backed by the UK Government and awarded as part of the European Space Agency’s TRUTHS satellite mission, which will rapidly improve our ability to track and monitor climate change from Earth Observation data. It will allow climate scientists to better compare and calibrate data from other satellites while making the reasons for climate change action more certain and enabling progress from those actions to be seen in the shortest possible time.
Earth observation satellites collect hundreds of terabytes of data per day, delivering vital intelligence about how fast glaciers flow, the size of forest fires in the Amazon, and the quality of the air that we breathe. Measurements from these satellites will arm policy makers, governments and industry with the best quality data and knowledge needed to track and better understand the impacts of climate change.
The TRUTHS mission was originally conceived in the UK by Professor Nigel Fox of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) – a world leading centre for measurement science – to act as the first ever ‘climate and calibration laboratory in space’.
Richard Franklin, Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space in the UK said: “Validating data on Earth’s changing climate is at the heart of this exciting mission, which will have a profound impact on future studies. It will provide the gold standard of calibration for space-based Earth observation – a kind of ‘standards laboratory in space’. For the first time the international scientific community will be able to cross-reference their measurements and data, enabling much more accurate forecasts and analysis, from both large institutional and small commercial missions.”