Airbus Wins Satellite Mission to Gauge Global Warming Accuracy

Airbus SE won a contract to help build a European Space Agency satellite designed for scientists to more accurately predict the pace of climate change.

The mission will enlarge the constellation of satellites being launched to track the impact of global warming on the Earth’s economies. The Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial and Helio Studies, or TRUTHS satellite, will increase the certainty of climate and weather models. It will follow recent launches of satellites observing air quality, emissions and sea levels.

Under the 16 million-euro ($18.6 million) TRUTHS contract awarded on Tuesday, Airbus will engineer novel instruments to collect absolute measurements of the light reflected off the Earth’s surface, according to a statement from the U.K. Space Agency, which is also supporting the project. Design studies will run through 2022 with launch foreseen in 2028.

Airbus Wins Satellite Mission to Gauge Global Warming Accuracy

Solar radiation data will be used to calibrate the observations of other satellites that collect weather, soil, air and water data, such as those carried on the Copernicus network for the European Union, Airbus said.

Earth observation satellites collect hundreds of terabytes of data a day, but with findings that sometimes contradict each other. Standardizing data is currently a slow process because it has to be sent back down to Earth for it to be processed. The TRUTHS satellite will instead enable the other instruments to calibrate in orbit, speeding up processing times.

“For the first time the international scientific community will be able to cross reference their measurements and data enabling much more accurate forecasts and analysis, especially from the European Copernicus program,” said Richard Franklin, managing director of Airbus Defence and Space in the U.K.

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