Airbus has secured a ‘climate change space contract’ to collect the first absolute measurements of the light reflected off the surface of the Earth.
The contract is supported by the government and has been awarded as part of the European Space Agency’s TRUTHS satellite mission, which was originally set up through the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).
Currently, observation satellites collect hundreds of terabytes of data per day, gathering statistics about glacier flow, air quality, forest fires, ice coverage and emissions levels – the new contract will enable climate scientists to better compare and calibrate data from other satellites and allow much more accurate forecasts and analysis from programmes such as the European Copernicus programme to be made.
It will also make climate change superforecasts possible – these are long-term, accurate predictions about the changing environment.
Such predictions would allow policymakers, governments and industry to better track, understand and tackle the impacts of climate change.
UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway, said: “Data has been one of our most powerful and versatile weapons against coronavirus, and it is among our most potent weapons in countering climate change.
“This mission, with Airbus leading the charge, will not only give us the first-ever absolute measurement of the light reflected off Earth’s surface, it will reduce the uncertainty in future climate projections while arming our scientists with the most reliable data and insight we have ever had access to.”