Government supports breakthrough space technology to fight climate change


Eleven UK organizations have received a share of just under £ 7million in government funding to implement the latest advances in space innovation. The majority of projects focus on climate change or environmental management, others aim to secure our telecommunications systems and protect digital infrastructure against cyber attacks.

Projects receiving funding include Global Satellite Vu Ltd, which will build a compact, high-resolution satellite infrared camera to measure thermal emissions from our homes, schools and workplaces, helping to improve energy efficiency. The Open University of Milton Keynes will develop the mission concept for “TreeView”, a forestry and management tool that will support a nature-based solution to tackle climate change by monitoring tree health from space.

Science Minister George Freeman said:

Satellites in space are helping us solve some of the biggest challenges we face, from climate change to cyberattacks, and through the National Space Strategy we are putting the UK at the forefront of liberation of these innovations.

From monitoring greenhouse gas emissions to supporting increased tree planting, this new funding will take groundbreaking ideas from the UK space industry and our brilliant scientists, and turn them into reality.

The funding comes from the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Program (NSIP) and was announced today (9 November 2021) as the UK hosts the COP 26 climate talks in Glasgow. Space plays a critical role in the fight against climate change, with satellites collecting half of the 56 types of data we need to measure and understand climate change.

This £ 7million funding comes on top of the £ 7million provided last year to support projects throughout their development phase. The new funding ranges from £ 157,000 to £ 1 million per project and will allow organizations to take their projects to the next level and implement their innovative ideas.

The government recently launched the National Space Strategy which outlines long-term plans to develop Britain’s space sector and make Britain a science and technology superpower, including building on manufacturing and technological capabilities, by attracting investment and working internationally.

Projects in detail:

Development of a new high-resolution infrared sensor payload for heat detection

  • Global Satellite Vu Ltd, Surrey
  • £ 999,698
  • Global Satellite Vu Ltd will develop and launch the world’s first small satellite that will provide high quality thermal video and still thermal images of the Earth, initiating the design, construction and integration of the infrared camera. By launching a small constellation of infrared satellites, this project will measure thermal emissions from any structure on the planet. The technology will act like the Earth’s thermometer to monitor energy efficiency, economic activity and carbon footprint.
  • Consortium partners: Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and KISPE

TreeView: Precision forestry to fight climate change

  • The Open University, Milton Keynes
  • £ 477,456
  • Trees are a natural carbon sink and are essential for supporting various ecosystems. TreeView will enable remote precision forestry and management from space nationally and globally, supporting a nature-based solution to climate change.
  • Consortium partners: In-Space, Beck Optronic Solutions, XCAM, Adiuvo Engineering, Teledyne e2v, 2Excel Geo, Center for Ecology and Hydrology, Forest Research

Quantum Accelerometer Climate Explorer (Q-ACE)

  • Thales Alenia Space, Oxfordshire
  • £ 345,032
  • Quantum Accelerometer Climate Explorer (Q-ACE) mission will unite cold atom interferometry technology from the University of Birmingham and Teledyne e2v with the revolutionary new “SkimSat” satellite platform in very low earth orbit from Thales Alenia Space . The work will help develop the Q-ACE mission which will measure the density of the Earth’s thermosphere and provide data that will help better understand climate predictions.
  • Consortium partners: Teledyne e2v, University of Birmingham, RAL Space, Fraunhofer UK Research Limited and Met Office

High resolution thermal infrared space telescopes for the global monitoring of the energy efficiency of buildings

  • University of Cambridge (Institute of Astronomy and Cambridge Zero)
  • £ 726,978
  • Thermal infrared telescopes in space can monitor the energy production of buildings, making them a powerful tool in ensuring that governments, businesses and even individuals are on track to meet emission targets. internationally agreed carbon. The team will study how the data can be used and develop prototypes for an innovative deployable telescope as part of a nanosat constellation to accurately produce thermal images of buildings and infrastructure.
  • Consortium partners: Open Cosmos Ltd, S4 Limited and Durham University

ROKS Payload Flight Model – Implementation Phase

  • Craft Prospect Limited, Glasgow
  • £ 869,769
  • The Responsive Operations for Key Services (ROKS) mission will demonstrate the technologies of future secure telecommunications systems using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) and supported by artificial intelligence. This implementation phase will integrate the progress made from the discovery phase, through to construction, testing and finally delivery of the flight model to demonstrate operation in orbit by 2022.
  • Consortium partners: University of Strathclyde, University of Bristol, Fraunhofer Center for Applied Photonics (CAP)

Global Lidar Altimetry Mission: GLAMIS

  • University of Edinburgh
  • £ 300,236
  • The University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences, GLAMIS, will bring together expertise from Scotland’s growing space and photonics sectors to launch a new approach to space lidar; a system capable of mapping global topography and aerial structure and detecting changes. This phase will focus on increasing the coverage by increasing the stability of the laser wavelength and signal processing.
  • Consortium partners: Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd (Glasgow), UK Astronomy Tech Center, Resilience Constellation Management Ltd and Space Flow Limited.

Digital faraday

  • Limited space missions, Hampshire
  • £ 157,366
  • Faraday Digital will provide a global ultra-wideband LEO communications and processing infrastructure that can be used by third parties to develop, test and deploy a wide range of applications and services. This activity will reduce the risk of the remaining technological elements for a flight demonstration in 2023. Ultimately, the disruptive Faraday Digital service will provide ubiquitous in-orbit infrastructure that can support the new space revolution and provide the capability. download and deliver new services from space on timescales of a few weeks instead of the traditional three to five years.
  • Consortium partners: Subcos Wave RF Ltd

Laser communications for CubeSats

  • University of Northumbria at Newcastle
  • £ 644,617
  • The goal of the project is to replace the existing low-speed radio frequency transceiver used in CubeSats with high-speed, lightweight, low-power free-space optical transceivers, allowing a radical change in our approach to constellations. communications and space science. missions. By the end of this project, a test bench design will have been developed as well as a mission design study for future system testing in space.
  • Consortium partners: SMS Electronics Limited, Durham University and e2E Group

Constellation of hyperspectral hyperspectral sounders of nanosatellites for climate change and its mitigation (HYMS CONCAM)

  • STFC RAL space, Oxfordshire
  • £ 814,129
  • As average global temperatures rise, risks such as heat waves and floods increase in frequency and severity, and chronic risks intensify, such as drought and sea level rise. Improved observations of our weather systems and more accurate forecasts are essential for our understanding, planning and mitigation of extreme events. STFC RAL Space is developing a new small satellite observation system using microwave sensors that will improve our ability to monitor the increasing weather variability of our planet. These observations will help weather services provide accurate and timely weather forecasts that will improve our ability to respond to climate change.
  • Consortium partners: NanoAvionics UK, STAR Dundee UK and UK Met Office


  • Geospatial overview, Birmingham
  • £ 324,812
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the critical driver of climate change and temperature rise, but detecting and monitoring the locations where emissions occur is problematic and costly using technologies current. Building on the positive results of their discovery project, Geospatial Insight aims to provide a space-based operational solution to detect, quantify and monitor point source greenhouse gas plume emitters, initially focusing on methane – this project will focus on the development of a service targeted at commercial users in the oil and gas and “green” finance sectors.
  • Consortium partner: University of Leicester

Towards a federated system for the distribution of quantum keys by satellite

  • Arqit Ltd, London
  • £ 998,000
  • Our digital economy is at the mercy of advances in quantum computing that could threaten our encryption services. Arqit provides a unique quantum encryption platform as a service, QuantumCloud â„¢, which secures the communication links of any networked device against current and future forms of attack, even from a quantum computer. Arqit’s federated quantum system enables the provision of private instances of its QuantumCloud â„¢ product to customers who wish to control their cryptographic infrastructure.
  • Consortium partners: STFC RAL Space, QinetiQ Group plc, Honeywell (COM DEV Ltd), Heriot-Watt University, Virgin Orbit UK Limited.

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