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MicroCarb arrives in Oxfordshire’s Harwell Campus

16:24 13 December in News, Oxfordshire

A joint British and French satellite dedicated to monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change, has arrived in the UK where the assembly, integration and testing will be completed.

Called MicroCarb, the mission between the UK Space Agency and the French space agency, CNES, will be the first European satellite dedicated to measuring atmospheric CO2 from all around the world – the main greenhouse gas caused by human activity. The satellite will be a timely contribution to tracking progress with reducing greenhouse gas emissions as required by the Paris Agreement.

Due to launch in 2024 the instrument was built by Airbus France, with pre-flight calibration and validation conducted by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington, before being shipped to the UK where Thales Alenia Space will complete the satellite assembly, integration and testing at the Science and Technology Facility Council’s RAL Space test facilities on the Harwell Space Cluster, in Oxfordshire.

MicroCarb’s data will contribute to global efforts to measure how much carbon is being emitted by natural processes and how much by human activities. This information will help inform decisions on tackling climate change.

MicroCarb will monitor Earth’s atmospheric CO2 from space with extreme precision and detect the changes associated with surface emissions and uptake across the world from our cities, forests and oceans. An important feature of the satellite is its special city-scanning observing mode that will allow us to map the CO2 distribution across urban areas, which are responsible for the majority of global emissions, and support efforts to reduce emissions.

Data from MicroCarb will help monitor international progress in meeting the Paris Agreement climate target of limiting global surface warming to well below 2ºC of pre-industrial temperatures.

Paul Britton, CEO of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, commented: “MicroCarb’s move to the Harwell Campus showcases the significance and value of the Space Cluster within Oxfordshire. It signifies that the region has the capacity, talent, and capability to facilitate space projects of tremendous magnitude, which are important not only for the region itself, but also globally.”


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