NCEO scientists are playing a leading role in some vital climate missions together with our international collaborators. This page illustrates some of the key satellites in space which are operational for climate or will be launched as explorers allowing us to investigate change across the Earth consistently and in many inaccessible locations.
© ESA Biomass_satellite image
European Space Agency Earth Explorer
Launch Date: 2023
The Biomass mission will deliver crucial, new, global measurements of the biomass of forests using the first ever space radar using a 70 cm wavelength, chosen for its sensitivity to biomass. Using multiple images of the forest, above-ground biomass and forest height will be measured globally twice per year for five years, reducing the current major uncertainties about forest carbon content, particularly in the huge tropical forests. Measuring biomass and its change is central to estimating the impact of forests on atmospheric carbon dioxide, their role in offsetting carbon emissions and providing accurate data for carbon credits.
European (multi-national consortium) Climate Mission
Launch Date: 2028+
TRUTHS is a ground-breaking mission, inspired by the National Physical Laboratory, which will set a new benchmark to detect change in Earth’s climate system in particular its optical or shortwave radiation as reflected to space. Essentially TRUTHS helps us to accurately observe an important component of the radiation budget of the Earth. By reducing uncertainties due to calibration, it will provide a gold-standard reference for satellites observing the Earth, Moon & Sun and will speed up our ability to accurately assess the impact of our climate actions. The key elements of TRUTHS are a visible-shortwave infrared, hyperspectral imager calibrated through a cryogenic absolute standard coupled through a transfer radiometer. TRUTHS will be built by the UK space industry, led by Airbus, with partners from Europe.
© CNES/Illustration Oliver Sattler 2015
French-UK Climate Mission
Launch Date: 2023
MicroCarb is the first European satellite dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide (CO2), providing highly precise determinations of its atmospheric concentrations across the globe. These atmospheric data will play a significant role in our understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and the determination of net fluxes (emissions minus uptake; net zero occurs when uptake balances emissions) particularly where there is a lack of ground stations. A novel contribution is a city scanning mode which allows for high spatial resolution data (typically 2 x 2 km2) for selected large/mega cities. Microcarb is a collaboration between CNES in France and the UK Space Agency.