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NPL and Telespazio are improving quality assurance of space mission data

Providing the confidence needed to make climate data actionable

2.5 minute read

Scientists at NPL are working in collaboration with Telespazio UK to develop an assessment framework to provide quality assurance for the Earth Observation data products generated from commercial satellite missions, as part of the European Space Agency (ESA) Earthnet Data Assessment Project (EDAP+). This is enabling commercial satellite vendors to develop the evidence data users need to have confidence their data is fit for their purpose.

The increasing range of applications of Earth Observation (EO) data products and availability of low-cost satellites is resulting in an increasing number of commercial EO satellite systems, developed with a view to deliver end-to-end information services.

These commercial satellite systems may provide complementary capabilities and services to those of Space Agencies and from an agency point of view could therefore be considered as candidates for ESA Third Party Mission (TPM) status. To ensure that the data from these missions can be efficiently exploited and that reliable scientific conclusions can be drawn from it, there is a need for data quality to be assessed including the results of appropriate calibration and validation of the satellite sensors.

Via EDAP+, NPL and Telespazio are working to ensure space agencies can take full advantage of the increased range of available data from non-ESA operated missions and perform early data assessments to ensure data products are consistently fit for purpose. The assessment framework is also achieving increasing adoption internationally, and is now being developed in collaboration with NASA, who are trialling its use.

Additionally, the team will be developing methodologies and guidelines that can be shared with the mission providers, and the user community, for training and capacity building with regards to performing efficient data quality assessments in preparation for future commercial EO missions.

This project continues to build on NPL and Telespazio’s long-standing collaboration in the space sector, including via the QA4EO and EOSure projects, to continuously support the improvement in quality of data collected through EO systems and satellites.

Once completed the project will result in a framework which can be utilised by the space sector to ensure their products produce high quality, accurate data providing confidence to decision makers.

Cyrus Larijani, Strategic Business Development Manager for Space at NPL, states, “NPL is delighted to be working with Telespazio and ESA to deliver confidence in quality assurance for EO data products. This work forms an integral part of NPL’s wider strategy to deliver highly accurate, actionable climate data, underpinned by metrology, which senior decision-makers can trust when developing and implementing key environmental policies.

Sam Hunt, NPL’s lead scientist on the EDAP project, states, “The QA framework developed in the EDAP+ project is providing commercial satellite vendors a comprehensive scheme to demonstrate the quality of their products for the first time. In this emerging sector, the EDAP+ product assessments can give potential users the confidence they need that the data will be fit for their purpose.”

Geoff Busswell, Head of Marketing & Sales at Telespazio UK, states, “Telespazio UK is pleased to have won this ESA contract and be leading the work on the EDAP + project.  We are looking forward to building on our collaborative relationship with our project partners, NPL and working with satellite data providers looking to become ESA Third Party Missions (TPMs) providers through technical assessment of their sensor data. Building on the pilot project, EDAP+ has seen the addition of radio-frequency (RF) and AIS data from New Space missions and will continue to support the consideration of new data types as TPMs”.


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14 Nov 2022