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NPL TRUTHS mission receives funding

Next phase of the mission to provide radiometric measurement of the Sun and Earth

3.5 minute read

The NPL conceived TRUTHS mission was put forward for the November 2022 ESA Council Meeting at ministerial level and has received funding to take it forward towards implementation.

TRUTHS becomes a founding element of a future ‘international climate and calibration observatory’ alongside NASA’s CLARREO pathfinder mission. This new generation of explicitly designed SI-Traceable Satellites (SITSats) look to help enable a new epoch in climate quality observations of the Earth.

The Traceable Radiotruths-ns-(1).pngmetry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio-Studies (TRUTHS) mission will provide radiometric measurement of the sun and Earth, with unprecedented accuracy, to contribute to the understanding of climate change through robust benchmark observations to support model forecasts.It will be a ‘standards laboratory in space’ setting the ‘gold standard’ reference for satellite derived observations in the solar reflective part of the spectrum. By directly measuring incoming and outgoing energy, TRUTHS, together with sister missions like FORUM and IASI will enhance our ability to estimate a more complete picture of the Earth’s radiation imbalance which drives global warming.

TRUTHS is the pinnacle of NPL’s activities supporting Earth observation and climate, which span from taking observations in woodland, snowfields, oceans and deserts through to data analytical techniques to cross-compare and harmonise data sets and derived information whilst adding critical quality and uncertainty metrics to it. The NPL team collects and assesses the data and provides unique services and facilities to calibrate and characterise the sensors. A recent example is STAR-cc-OGSE a facility which has been used to characterise the French/UK greenhouse gas satellite mission MicroCarb currently deployed at Airbus in Toulouse France. 

Following the allocation of funding the mission will move from the design phase through to detailed prototyping leading to the detailed design of the flight hardware and associated satellite platform.  NPL, whilst not building the flight hardware, will continue to support its design and characterisation. 

NPL provides the UK mission scientist, Professor Nigel Fox, who conceived the mission 20 years ago and who also leads an international academic consortium which undertakes science studies and provides support to ESA and the industrial consortium.

 In this next phase, work will also start in earnest to prepare the tools and framework which will be needed to process and distribute the data on the ground and in particular how TRUTHS will enable performance enhancements to other satellite observations, including new space small satellites, through in-flight reference calibration.


Cyrus Larijani, Strategic Business Development Manager for Space at NPL, said, “I am delighted that TRUTHS has received this funding which will help accelerate its implementation as the cornerstone of a space climate and calibration observatory. This project forms an integral part of our wider strategy to support climate adaption strategies by delivering highly accurate, actionable climate data.”



Nigel-Fox-NS.pngNigel Fox, NPL fellow and UK mission scientist, said “this is really exciting for me, NPL and the UK. I have been striving to implement this mission for more than 20 years and although the decision in 2019 by UK and partner ESA member states to undertake the initial design studies was at the time amazing, this step is the confirmation that my concepts are achievable and the science objectives worthy of the considerable investment.  For the UK, I hope it will provide a flagship to help inspire the next generation of scientists, some who are entering secondary school today will be working on TRUTHS data and others who might be in the upper secondary school years may be involved in its building, as apprentices or science/engineering graduates. The mission will enhance UK leadership in climate data, services and science bringing the ultimate anchor to the quality aspects that the UK is known for and demonstrates the full end to end data supply chain capabilities within our nation.  TRUTHS will also support national space growth ambitions through providing the means to enhance the value of new space and help make the UK the first choice for investments and new visions.”

Find out more about TRUTHS

Find out more about the announcement

23 Nov 2022