ESA awards contract to Airbus to develop TRUTHS satellite for accurate climate measurements.

December 04, 2023 – Delegates from around 200 countries have gathered in Dubai for the United Nations COP28 summit to assess their efforts to combat the climate crisis. With satellites critical to understanding and monitoring climate change, ESA has awarded a contract to Airbus to move the TRUTHS satellite mission forward.

TRUTHS is poised to become the gold standard for climate measurements, giving decision-makers greater confidence in the data they use for climate action.

ESA goes to great lengths to ensure that satellite data beaming back to Earth is as reliable as possible. But how can we be certain that measurements from space are truly accurate, particularly when it comes to the critical data required to take action on climate change?

TRUTHS, or Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio-Studies, will put any such concerns to rest.

The ESA is building this new satellite on behalf of the UK and five other ESA Member States, Switzerland, Czechia, Spain, Greece, and Romania, as part of its Earth Watch program.

It will provide traceable International System of Units (SI) measurements of incoming solar radiation and of radiation reflected from Earth back out into space, with which to calibrate data from other satellites and to provide high-accuracy Earth’s radiation data to climate modelling scientists.

In effect, TRUTHS will be a ‘standards laboratory in space’, setting the gold standard reference for climate measurements.

With liftoff slated for 2030, ESA is in the process of developing this novel satellite, a process that is done in careful stages – the latest of which is marked by the signing of a contract at the COP28 summit to take the mission into a phase that focuses on the design of the satellite and its instruments involving building demonstration models of some of the key technologies.

This next step also includes analyzing the instruments’ performance, which includes exhaustive simulations and system modelling, to demonstrate their technical maturity.

“We are glad to award the contract to Airbus in the UK to take their work on developing TRUTHS into the next all-important phase. We see here at COP28 that the world is committed to climate action and having reliable data on which to base decisions is of the utmost importance. “TRUTHS will be used as a benchmark to so that data from other satellites can be compared more easily, thereby improving reliability.”

ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs, Simonetta Cheli, said

“This contract takes us one step closer to building a mission that will enable scientists and climatologists to cross reference their measurements and data enabling much more accurate forecasts and analysis in a shorter time.”

Jean Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, added

The TRUTHS satellite will host two main instruments: the Cryogenic Solar Absolute Radiometer and the Hyperspectral Imaging Spectrometer as well as the novel onboard calibration system.

Together, these instruments will make continuous measurements of both incoming and Earth reflected solar radiation. These two observations will be used to evaluate the Earth’s energy-in to energy-out ratio.

Essentially, the amount of incoming solar energy compared to the amount that bounces back to space controls our climate. An accurate knowledge of these energy exchanges is fundamental to understanding and monitoring change.

ESA also signed a contract today with Teledyne e2v to develop the detection system, which is at the core of TRUTHS’ Hyperspectral Imaging Spectrometer. This item, procured by ESA, will be integrated into the instrument by Airbus.

Source: ESA

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