The United Kingdom is embarking on an ambitious journey in joining Spain and Portugal to enhance Earth observation and data-sharing capabilities.
The move was unveiled on Tuesday, November 21 at the UK Space Conference in Belfast. On the opening day of the convention, the UK announced its partnership in the Atlantic Constellation, aligning with Portugal and Spain, writes Gov.uk.
This collaboration is set to amplify the UK’s prowess in Earth observation technology. It complements its existing contributions to the EU Copernicus programme, the European Space Agency, and various bilateral missions.
Strengthening Earth Observation Efforts
The UK Space Agency has committed £3 million to support the construction of a new pathfinder satellite, a project co-funded with Open Cosmos.
This UK-based enterprise, situated at the Harwell Space Campus in Oxfordshire, will spearhead the satellite’s development. The satellite is poised to join the Atlantic Constellation, marking a significant stride in ocean, Earth, and climate monitoring.
A Boost To Global Monitoring
This satellite, mirroring the design of three others from Portugal, will be launched into the same orbital plane.
This approach will substantially improve the frequency of revisit times at the onset of the Constellation, offering consistent and valuable data updates. This is crucial for services like natural disaster detection, monitoring, and mitigation.
Andrew Griffith, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, emphasized the critical role of Earth observation.
He stated, ‘Earth observation will play an absolutely vital role in tackling global challenges like climate change and disaster relief, providing the data we need at speed, while supporting key UK industries like agriculture and energy.’
Griffith also highlighted the importance of collaborating with Open Cosmos and Atlantic partners Spain and Portugal in leveraging space technology for mutual goals.
Advancements And Future Prospects
Open Cosmos, recently bolstering its OpenConstellation with two additional satellite missions launched on November 11, has also secured $50 million in Series B funding. This investment is aimed at propelling the company’s international growth and expanding its product offering.
Rafael Jorda Siquier, CEO of Open Cosmos, commented on this development: ‘Building a shared satellite constellation is a very effective way of having high revisit diverse data over each region of interest.
‘The UK joining Portugal and Spain in the Atlantic Constellation is a major step forward in the national EO strategy and we are very proud that Open Cosmos has been contracted to deliver the first UK pathfinder satellite.’
Expanding Capabilities And Data Access
The UK’s contribution to the Atlantic Constellation is expected to enhance revisit times by 33 per cent in the first orbital plane, allowing for more frequent Earth observations. This enhancement will be pivotal for disaster relief efforts.
A collaborative approach to data access and provision policies is underway with Portugal and Spain, promising UK users tasking capabilities and improved data frequency in the first operational year.
The Constellation’s primary applications will span across disaster relief, early detection of climate change indicators, agricultural productivity, and energy efficiency improvements.