UK and France reach new agreement on climate change mission
02 Nov 2021



The UK Space Agency has provided new funding for a joint British and French mission called MicroCarb, dedicated to monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide - the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.

Artists impression of MicroCarb scanning the atmosphere.

​​Artists ​impression of MicroCarb.

​© CNES/Illustration Oliver Sattler 2015
STFC RAL Space have delivered the Pointing and Calibration System for MicroCarb, feeding the light from the Earth or from calibration sources into the instrument to make sure the measurements are accurate and reliable.
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, and Laurence Monnoyer-Smith, Director of sustainable development of the French space agency, CNES, signed an implementation arrangement for the MircroCarb mission at COP26 – the United Nations climate change conference being hosted by the UK in Glasgow. 
The UK will provide a further £3.9 million for the mission, due to launch in early 2023, which will be the first European satellite dedicated to measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide from all around the world – the main greenhouse gas caused by human activity.
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. 
Science Minister George Freeman said: 
“The UK is leading the way in using satellites in space to monitor, understand and tackle climate change. Our National Space Strategy sets out our ambition to tackle global challenges through international collaboration, consolidating our status as a science and technology superpower. 
“MicroCarb puts our space sector at the heart of a major European space mission which will benefit global efforts to achieve Net Zero and build a more sustainable future.”
The new funding is to complete the build and testing of the satellite, led by Thales Alenia Space at the RAL Space assembly and test facilities​ on the Harwell Space Cluster, in Oxfordshire, and for National Centre for Earth Observation experts at the universities of Leicester and Edinburgh to translate atmospheric CO2 observation into maps that show carbon sources and sinks and the National Physical Laboratory, in Teddington, to understand how instrument and observation aspects contribute to the data use.

Read the full announcement from the UK Space Agency.