‘Eyes on our world’: UK’s £15m push to understand planet and climate

Funding could cover a range of environmental services, including climate monitoring, environmental management, meteorology and agriculture

Improving the understanding of the planet and its climate is receiving a huge boost, thanks to fresh funding worth £15 million announced by the UK Space Agency.

It will support research and experimental development of space-based, Earth Observation (EO) tools, technologies and data use and is expected to help accelerate the development of UK EO technologies that could be flown on satellites over the next few years.

That could cover a range of environmental services, including climate monitoring, environmental management, meteorology, agriculture and urban planning and improving scientific knowledge.

George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology added: “Earth Observation technology is critical to tackling the fundamental challenges of our age – from monitoring climate change to responding to humanitarian disasters – and so we owe it to the future of our planet to harness the UK’s world-leading skills in this field.

“This pivotal technology doesn’t stop there and from ensuring the safety of bridges to enabling our farmers get the best from their land, this £15m investment will boost our economy and drive forward our ambition to make the UK a science superpower.”

The £15 million will cover Pathfinder projects of up to £75,000, Fast Track projects of up to £250,000 and Flagship projects of up to £3 million.

Pathfinder and Fast Track projects will support new and innovative ideas for technology development, including early-stage research and lab-based experimental hardware, while flagship projects will develop technologies further, including testing instruments in relevant environments such as vacuum chambers and airborne demonstration flights.

Professor John Remedios, Executive Director of the National Centre for Earth Observation said: “The UK has a proud history of developing satellite instruments which have transformed our understanding of the global Earth system from ocean temperature change to polar ice melt.

“Working together, the new investment will enable the UK to design and test our next ‘eyes on our world’. The UK has a vibrant community of Earth Observation scientists in our research laboratories, universities and industry who can bring novel technologies, smart mathematical algorithms and exciting datasets into leading partnerships across the world.”

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