Press Release

New techniques to monitor the environment

By SpaceRef Editor
November 2, 2001
Filed under , ,

Earth Observation Projects share almost £1M

Revolutionary new techniques to monitor the environment and provide vital
information on natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes are to
receive a major boost today with Government funding of almost £1M.

Science and Innovation Minister Lord Sainsbury today announced backing
for six new projects to monitor the Earth from space using satellites.

They include:

* a new technique using satellites to measure ocean currents and the
height of waves to help monitor the Earth’s climate;

* a study using satellites to investigate air pollution over Europe and
Africa; and

* a project to measure movements in the Earth’s crust to monitor
earthquakes and volcanoes.

Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Sainsbury, said:

“Earth observation satellites already provide a wide range of information
about our planet. But these new projects could help protect the world
environment by monitoring the Earth from space.

“This programme will help the UK space industry build on its potential
in this important area of work.”

Notes to Editors

1. The NEWTON programme (New Technology for Observational Needs) is funded
by the DTI to the value of £900,000 until March 2003. The programme is
designed to improve the UK industrial capability and economic benefits
achieved from the development of Earth Observation technology.

2. The programme focuses largely on the requirements of the European Space
Agency Earth Explorer Envelope Programme.

3. The projects that have been selected are:

* BAE Systems in Chelmsford, Essex (Lead Partner), Southampton
Oceanographic Centre (SOC), Satellite Observing Systems (SOS), Proudman
Oceanographic Laboratory (POL), Astrium Ltd, The Met Office, University
of Hamburg — Along-Track SAR Interferometry is a promising technique
for measuring ocean currents and swell. Information obtained from this
technique is relevant to climate modelling and operational marine
applications. This study will examine the way forward to evaluate such
data and recommend a way for space borne implementation based on user
requirements

* Astrium Ltd in Stevenage, Hertfordshire (Lead partner), Sira Electro-
Optics, University of Leicester — Design study to investigate the
implementation of deploying a geostationary satellite to investigate
the impact of atmospheric pollution over Europe and Africa. This
is aimed at providing valuable information to both scientists and
governments on pollution levels. This project will use a Geostationary
Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometry technique and the project is
called GeoSCIA.

* Astrium Ltd in Stevenage, Hertfordshire (lead Partner), University of
Cambridge — Development of demonstration hardware for large deployable
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) antenna. Current and future generations
of SAR require large antennas based on expensive technology. This
project sets out to develop a low cost option antenna that will allow
for the cost effective use of the Interferometry technique, which is
used for measuring small movements in the Earth’s crust over a large
area (ie 5-20mm/yr over 50 – 100 km length), used in the monitoring
of earth quakes, fault movements and volcanoes.

* Surrey Satellites Technology Ltd, in Guildford — The development of
a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) instrument to be flown on a 10kg
small satellite to demonstrate a new low cost technique for sea state
measurements. Such a technique will provide information that will
be useful to both scientists studying the Earth’s oceans and to
commercial marine users, e.g. for ship routing.

* Sira Electro Optics in Chislehurst, Kent (Lead partner), Astrium
Ltd & Swansea University — A Definition Study looking at a future
mission to provide additional data on the structure and chemical
composition of vegetation canopies which will provide valuable
information in studying the interaction of vegetation with the
atmosphere, leading to a better understanding of the Earth’s
processes. The mission aims to build upon Hyperspectral analysis
techniques.

* Sula Systems in Wotton Under Edge, Gloucestershire (Lead partner),
MAAS, Astrium Ltd, RAL, University of Dundee — A study in
preparation of the critical technology issues for the opportunity of
the UK to participate in the European Space Agency (ESA) Explorer
Mission “ACECHEM” by taking a significant role in the design and
development of the “MASTER” instrument. The “ACECHEM” mission is an
atmospheric chemistry mission with the “MASTER” instrument measuring
gases in the atmosphere, which will give vital information on our
environment.

4. BNSC is working in partnership with the newly formed QinetiQ (formerly
DERA) as their programme management agents.

5. The projects are expected to begin by middle of October 2001.

6. More information concerning future ESA missions referred to in this
article can be found at the ESA web-site, http://www.esrin.esa.it

7. British National Space Centre contact details:

Jon Spencer

Information Officer

Tel 020 7215 0905

Fax 020 7215 0936

E-mail [email protected]

SpaceRef staff editor.