The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has announced £15m (US$19m) funding that will support the research and experimental development of space-based instruments for monitoring the Earth.

The Earth Observation Technology Programme funding will be used to support a range of environmental services such as meteorology, climate monitoring, environmental management, agriculture and urban planning and improving scientific knowledge.

According to UKSA, the UK is a world leader in Earth Observation (EO) tools, technologies and data use, and the funding will be used to accelerate the development of EO technologies.

George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, commented, “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.”

Earth observation investment

The funding, delivered by the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI), is part of a £400m (US$551.5m) package announced in November 2022 to support the UK’s Earth Observation sector.

Harshbir Sangha, missions and capabilities delivery director at the UK Space Agency, said, “Satellite technology is essential to our daily lives, helping us to monitor climate change and protect our environment, manage our resources, respond to global humanitarian disasters and support sustainable development.

“This funding will help catalyse investment across the sector to support a range of innovative projects, from developing new sensor technologies to using the data for improved understanding of climate change.

The £15m (US$19m) funding will cover Pathfinder projects of up to £75,000 (US$96,000), Fast Track projects of up to £250,000 (US$320,000), and Flagship projects of up to £3m (US$3.8m). Pathfinder and Fast Track projects will support new and innovative ideas for technology development, including early-stage research and lab-based experimental hardware.

Flagship projects will develop technologies further, including testing instruments in relevant environments such as vacuum chambers and airborne demonstration flights.

Exclusive interview

Watch an exclusive interview from this year’s Space-Comm Expo with Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, about how the UK is investing in its space sector here.

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