Aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space has signed a contract with the UK Space Agency to work on MicroCarb, a joint UK-French satellite mission to measure global sources and sinks of carbon, the source of the principal human-caused greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which drives global warming.
It is the first European mission intended to characterize greenhouse gas fluxes on Earth’s surface and gauge how much carbon is being absorbed by oceans and forests, the main sinks on the planet.
The mission, scheduled to launch in 2020, will also contribute to international efforts to measure how much carbon gas is being emitted by natural processes and human activities. MicroCarb will enable the UK Space Agency and the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) to pave the way for a longer term operational system in response to the Paris COP21 Agreement.
Thales Alenia Space engineers will work closely with the CNES project team before taking full responsibility for managing and delivering the satellite assembly, integration and test (AIT) program at the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF) in Harwell.
This world class facility, due to open in 2020, has been awarded £99m (US$132m) in funding by the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which aims to boost the UK’s space capabilities by designing and building more complex space instruments and technologically advanced satellites.
UK Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson said, “The UK space sector is brimming with talent and our collaboration with France on MicroCarb is an excellent platform to demonstrate our cutting-edge science and engineering, which is at the core of our industrial strategy.
“It is great to see our investment in the new NSTF is already making a difference for the sector. This facility will make Harwell a world-class hub for innovative space technology, helping UK companies like Thales Alenia Space be more competitive in the global market and supporting our ambition to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030.”
Ben Olivier, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in the UK, said, “MicroCarb will be a significant demonstration of what space technology and science from satellites can contribute to the understanding of the carbon cycle; ultimately helping decision makers to develop the best policies to make the world a better place.” - November 2017