The European Space Agency (ESA) has contracted Airbus as the lead for the Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial and Helio Studies (TRUTHS) A/B1 contract.

The study is part of ESA’s Earth Observation Earth Watch programme and Airbus will be responsible for the system feasibility studies and pre-developments.

Partners from the UK space industry, including Teledyne e2v UK, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), RAL, University of Leicester, Thales Alenia Space UK, CGI IT UK, Telespazio-UK and Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, are also involved in the TRUTHS study and pre-developments.

Companies and institutes from the participating nations, including the Czech Republic, Greece, Romania and Switzerland, will also contribute to the mission.

Airbus Defence and Space UK managing director Richard Franklin said: “Validating data on Earth’s changing climate is at the heart of this exciting mission, which will have a profound impact on future studies.

“It will provide the gold standard of calibration for space-based Earth observation – a kind of ‘standards laboratory in space’.

“For the first time, the international scientific community will be able to cross-reference their measurements and data, enabling much more accurate forecasts and analysis, especially from the European Copernicus programme.”

Equipped with a Cryogenic Solar Absolute Radiometer (CSAR), TRUTHS will gather data of the Sun’s radiation and sunlight reflected off the Earth’s surface.

This will help improve climatological data sets and standardise the observations of other satellites, as well as lower future climate projections uncertainty.

Last month, ESA awarded a €491m contract to Airbus for the Mars Sample Return’s (MSR) Earth Return Orbiter (ERO).