UK-built satellite to help tackle climate crisis from space

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.