3D rendering of the Earth with moon and sun 3D rendering of the Earth with moon and sun
  • 19ENV07 MetEOC-4 project website; 16ENV03 MetEOC-3
  • EMPIR,
  • Environment,
  • EMN Climate and Ocean Observation,

SHIPAS satellite-based climate sensor approved for in-orbit testing

Novel sensor developed with support of EMPIR projects to provide accurate temperature measurements of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere

An atmospheric temperature measuring instrument developed by partners in (and partly supported by) the EMPIR project ‘Metrology to establish an SI traceable climate observing system’ (19ENV07, MetEOC-4) has been approved for in-orbit testing onboard a European satellite scheduled for launch in 2025.

The instrument named ‘Spatial Heterodyne Interferometer Performance Assessment in Space’ (SHIPAS) was developed by Research Centre Jülich and Wuppertal University, Germany, to accurately measure temperatures in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere. These layers of the atmosphere at 70 to 130 km altitude are sensitive to greenhouse gas concentrations and are early indicators of global heating trends.

Key elements of the instrument’s pre-flight calibration system were developed as part of MetEOC-4 and its precursor ‘Further Metrology for Earth Observation and Climate’ (MetEOC-3, 16ENV03).

SHIPAS will capture temperature information identifiable from the spectral distributions of faint natural oxygen emissions. Previously, stray light reflected from the Earth’s surface would disturb such measurements.  SHIPAS solves this problem by using an integrated cloud and albedo sensor to quantify potential stray light sources, and this can be assimilated into correction methods.

Following a successful review by the European Space Agency, SHIPAS will be included onboard a satellite scheduled for in-orbit validation as part of the EU Horizon 2020 In-Orbit Demonstration and Validation (IOD/IOV) initiative on the latest generation of Redwire Space’s (formerly QinetiQ Space) P200 satellite platform.

The next deployment of the instrument is onboard INSPIRESat-4, as part of the Atmospheric Coupling and Dynamics Explorer (ARCADE) mission, which is the fourth satellite in the International Satellite Program in Research & Education (INSPIRE) series. ARCADE was successfully launched on 30 July 2023, and initial housekeeping data is expected about two months later.

Commenting on the success of the project its coordinator Nigel Fox (NPL) said:

“The SHIPAS initiative is an excellent illustration of how the MetEOC project series established partnerships with existing projects bringing to them resources and expertise to develop and demonstrate the benefits of metrological best practices to Earth observing sensors. Within MetEOC, the sensing technology used in SHIPAS is also being exploited for similar complementary observations of the mesopause from the ground as a reference instrument for the Network for Detection of Mesospheric Change. Other MetEOC activities involve not only calibrations of sensors but also assessments of the uncertainties of processed data spanning applications across observations of land, oceans, and the atmosphere.”

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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