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UK and France begin satellite collaboration as Harwell Space Cluster receives climate change instrument

SWINDON, UK – The assembly, integration, and testing of a joint British-French satellite for monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change, will be finished in the UK.

The UK Space Agency and the French space agency, CNES, are collaborating on a mission called MicroCarb that will be the first European satellite specifically designed to measure atmospheric CO2 from all over the world, the primary greenhouse gas brought on by human activity. The satellite will make a valuable contribution to monitoring how well greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington performed pre-flight calibration and validation on the instrument, which is scheduled to be launched in 2024. The instrument was built by Airbus France, and Thales Alenia Space will finish the satellite assembly, integration, and testing at the Science and Technology Facility Council’s RAL Space test facilities on the Harwell Space Cluster, in Oxfordshire.

Data from MicroCarb will aid efforts worldwide to determine how much carbon is released by human activity vs natural processes. Using this information can help decision-makers combat climate change.

The project has received a £13.9 million investment from the UK Space Agency.