NPL and STFC collaborate on small satellite calibration facility
29 Jul 2023
The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is partnering with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) RAL Space to develop an advanced small satellite calibration facility.
It aims to design, manufacture, and test the facility at NPL's Teddington site, with a final location at Harwell Campus.
Harnessing the expertise of NPL's STAR-cc-OGSE facility, which specialises in calibrating scientific instruments on satellites before launch, the new facility will offer state-of-the-art calibration solutions for small satellite providers.
By ensuring the performance of satellite payloads and components, the facility aims to guarantee the collection of reliable, accurate, and trusted earth observation (EO) data that can inform crucial decisions on climate change and emission reduction policies.
The project forms part of the UK Government's £200 million Earth Observation Investment Package and is intended to boost the UK’s role in climate and earth information services.
Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology George Freeman highlighted the significance of this facility in levelling the playing field for small satellite companies.
“Small satellite companies often struggle to find affordable and accessible calibration facilities, limiting the prospect of innovative new companies thriving in the UK’s fast growing space sector now worth £17.5 billion,” he said.
“This new facility will provide a much-needed service to level the playing field for these companies, while driving economic growth in the UK. Such companies are playing an increasingly important role in monitoring our planet and collecting vital data on climate change, emissions and sustainable development.
By ensuring satellites are properly calibrated, one could be confident that the data they collect was accurate and reliable, said the minister, enabling better decisions about how to protect the planet, through means such as monitoring Earth’s temperature levels.
Dr Emma Haynes, Partnerships Director at NPL commented: “Space technology, as well as trusted earth observation data, is intrinsic to addressing challenges such as climate change on a global scale. By supporting companies in developing and measuring the performance of their instrumentation we’re ensuring they can be used with confidence.”