The UK Space Agency has announced £15m (US$19m) in funding for the Earth Observation Technology Programme. The funding will support the research and experimental development of space-based instruments, aimed at supporting a range of environmental services that could include meteorology, climate monitoring, environmental management, agriculture and urban planning, and improving scientific knowledge.
This funding will help to accelerate the development of promising UK Earth observation (EO) technologies, which could be flown on satellites in the next few years. The funding is part of a £400m (US$506m) package announced in November 2022 to support the UK’s Earth observation sector. The £15m (US$19m) will cover Pathfinder projects of up to £75,000 (US$95,000), Fast Track projects of up to £250,000 (US$316,000) and Flagship projects of up to £3m (US$3.8m).
Pathfinder and Fast Track projects will support 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.
This funding opportunity is the latest in a series of technology development activities the UK Space Agency has issued under its Earth Observation Technology Programme. Since 2016 this program has provided £20m (US$25m) in funding across a total of 57 projects, with many now progressing toward flight on commercial, societal and research space missions.
They include a next-generation Synthetic Aperture Radar for Oceanography led by the National Oceanography Centre with Airbus, a Compact Infrared Imager and Radiometer led by the University of Oxford, and a Laser Heterodyne Radiometer led by RAL-Space.