With the aim of joining Portugal and Spain as a member of the Atlantic Constellation project, the UK will help fund and build a new satellite designed to monitor and combat climate change.
The Atlantic Constellation initiative will involve the development of a constellation of small satellites for monitoring the Earth, oceans and climate. Its mission is to provide data enabling early detection of climate change indicators and disaster relief actions, while increasing agricultural productivity and improving energy consumption.
Space technology startup Open Cosmos will build the UK satellite, a scout craft, using the same design as three of Portugal’s satellites. These four spacecraft will constitute the first batch of the constellation. Open Cosmos will co-fund development of the satellite, supported by an additional £3 million from the UK Space Agency.
The British satellite is expected to increase the frequency of revisits in the first orbital plane by 33%, meaning it will be able to make more observations of the same point on Earth. This way, the craft can provide “valuable, regularly updated data” that can support critical applications including detection, monitoring and mitigation of natural disasters.
“Earth observation will play an absolutely vital role in tackling global challenges such as climate change and disaster relief, quickly providing the data we need, while supporting key industries in the Kingdom “United as agriculture and energy,” said Andrew Griffith, Minister of State at the Department of Education. Science, innovation and technology.
“By working with Open Cosmos on a new satellite and supporting our Atlantic partners Spain and Portugal, we can harness space technology to achieve our shared goals, while creating new skills, opportunities and jobs for the future in order to develop the British economy.”
Open Cosmos already has a satellite in orbit, Menut, responsible for monitoring deforestation, flooding, the impact of forest fires and coastal erosion. The startup plans five additional launches between now and March and raised an additional €50 million in its last fundraising round in September.