TRUTHS – UK-led space-based climate and calibration observatory

22 July 2021

  • Telespazio UK is excited to be working with Airbus Defence and Space on TRUTHS, a satellite mission under ESA’s Earth Observation Earth Watch programme, now in its early phases.
  • The TRUTHS mission will gather extremely accurate measurements of energy coming into the Earth from the Sun, and light reflected off the surface of the Earth, to help understand changes that cause global warming and mankind’s impact on the planet, which will support faster and better decision-making on climate strategies.
  • Telespazio UK is responsible for the Flight Operations Segment, which includes the Flight Operations Control Centre and satellite ground stations.

Telespazio UK is part of a large UK-centred consortium supporting the development of the TRUTHS Earth Watch mission. A team from Airbus Defence and Space leads the Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies (TRUTHS) mission conceived by the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL). The European Space Agency (ESA) funds the mission, which is currently in its early phase development. The planned launch date for the TRUTHS mission is 2028.

The objective of the TRUTHS mission is to develop a satellite that could establish an SI-traceable space-based climate and calibration observing system to improve confidence in climate-change forecasts. It will use a hyper-spectral imager to measure incoming solar radiation and outgoing reflected radiation.  

Telespazio UK’s (TPZ UK) role in the project is to support the Ground Segment study team to define the requirements and necessary architecture for the mission. In particular, the TPZ UK team is responsible for the Flight Operations Segment, encompassing the Flight Operations Control Centre (FOCC) and satellite ground stations, and tasked with monitoring and controlling the satellite, flight dynamics, mission planning and the spacecraft simulator functions.

A novel on-board calibration system developed by NPL will permit the satellite to make extremely accurate measurements, to be used by other satellite sensors for calibration purposes. The data will also improve scientists’ ability to undertake certain climate assessment, specifically an estimate of the radiative imbalance underlying climate change.

The Phase A feasibility study is due to be completed in the summer of 2021, leading directly into Phase B1, which will look at providing a preliminary definition of the mission.

Telespazio CEO, Mark Hewer, said: “We are proud to be part of the strong team doing this important work, which will provide increased confidence in data for climate change forecasts and support net zero mitigation strategies. It’s very exciting that Telespazio UK has a leading role in this mission to create a new ‘gold standard’ reference point for future climate measurements.”