Both satellites, which were developed under the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) ARTES Pioneer programme (the UK is the largest funder to ARTES), will aim to prove the value of ‘nanosats’ in weather monitoring, by using them to measure refracted radio signals passing through the Earth’s atmosphere (Photo: ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images).

Two Glasgow built pint sized satellites funded by the UK Space Agency were launched from India’s Sriharikota on Thursday (29) by the Indian space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The Scottish satellites will monitor weather and help combat global climate change.

The two ‘first of a kind’ five-kilogram satellites which were designed and built by Spire Global are unique due to their function, tiny size, low cost and quick build time.

This style of satellite could revolutionise work in space, which has traditionally been slow and expensive for business and science to access, said UK Space Agency in a statement.

Both satellites, which were developed under the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) ARTES Pioneer programme (the UK is the largest funder to ARTES), will aim to prove the value of ‘nanosats’ in weather monitoring, by using them to measure refracted radio signals passing through the Earth’s atmosphere.

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive, UK Space Agency said, “these incredibly clever pint-sized satellites built in Glasgow could slash the complexity and cost of access to space, presenting an exciting opportunity for the UK to thrive in the commercial space age.”

“Through our £4mn development funding in ESA’s ARTES programme, the government’s Industrial Strategy and by working closely with our international partners, we are helping Scottish businesses transform their ideas into commercial realities, resulting in jobs, growth and innovation.”

Experts can use the satellite’s measurements to glean temperature, pressure and humidity information for weather forecasting and climate change monitoring.

Today the satellites were launched from Sriharikota, India, but from the 2020s, these home-grown spacecraft could be launched from the proposed spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland.

The UK Space Agency is also supporting a space incubation centre in Glasgow and has provided support over several years to the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, based at the University of Strathclyde and working across the whole of Scotland.

The centre’s role is to raise awareness of the potential of satellite services and data to be used in new and improved products and services in other “space enabled” markets including, for example, offshore renewable energy and aquaculture.

The UK Space Agency is driving the growth of the space sector as part of the government’s industrial strategy with major initiatives including the £99mn National Space Test Facility at Harwell, and the UK continues to be a leading member of ESA, which is independent of the EU.

RELATED ARTICLES