UK Space Agency launches

It’s finally here. The new UK Space Agency was officially unveiled today, including the official name, new logo and a few more details about plans for the future and what funding will be included. Read more here on BBC. So here’s looking forward to the coherency promised by this devlopment and effective engagement by all partners to ensure EO makes the most of this opportunity, including the developments at the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) at Harwell.


UPDATE 25th March 2010: See articles from ESA & BIS for some more reporting on this announcement and if you are really interested here is Lord Draysons speech from the day. Plus feature from ITN here if you don’t want to read.

In an update at the pointy end of these matters, Cryosat2 has a new launch date set for 8th April.

UK looks polar (temporarily)

Quickly highlighting a stunning image of the UK currently with very little not under a blanket of snow. The image is from the MODIS instrument (notice NASA first port of call again) and it is worth highlighting the recent improvements to the MODIS Rapid Response site. At first glance they look relatively minor, but the layout of quicklook images in a geographic pattern makes locating the required image much easier. Chapeau!


First SMOS data

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite launched last year as part of the ESA Earth Explorer series has returned its first data. Whilst this is part of the commissioning phase and is completely uncalibrated, it’s a good first step. At least it is distinguishing land from ocean.


More information is available from ESA here and I’ll relay more new when useable data starts flowing.

Wilkins update

Someone recently asked what was the current status of the Wilkins Ice Shelf. As ever up to date imagery is available from Polar View here, but I annotated a recent image to offer a guiding hand and thought it might be worthwhile making it available. Excuse the amateur cartoon nature of this, but it serves a purpose.


Any pointers on my interpretation are of course welcome. The unadulterated image is available here.

UK Space Agency announced

The Science Minister Lord Drayson has just announced the formation of a UK Space Agency. More details available here and on Drayson’s twitter feed.

The real details however concern how this will be funded and whether it will take responsibility for all current subscriptions to ESA. So we’ll wait to see what the consequences are for NERC and its budget. Regardless at least we now have a focal point for determining common priorities for all UK Space investment.

Watch this space.


Virtual Globes at AGU

Slightly off topic, but interesting nonetheless, the Virtual Globes session at AGU will be a live (free) webcast on Tuesday 15th December at 10:20 (San Francisco time). See here for more information and details of the presentations.


It’s not all Google Earth either.

Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment published

The SCAR Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment report was published yesterday. It provides a very comprehensive picture of the current knowledge about the state of the Antarctic, priorities for research and questions that need to be answered in the future. Readers here may be interested in the review of satellite observations used to monitor the Antarctic provided in Chapter 2 – “Observations, Data Accuracy & Tools”.


The full report is available here, but a more digestible summary of the 10 key points is provided at the bottom of the British Antarctic Survey press release here. There’s plenty of other coverage on BBC, New Scientist etc.