Thales Alenia Space entered an agreement with UK Space Agency to help the development of the joint UK-French MicroCarb satellite mission.

Under the deal, Thales will work with French space agency CNES to manage and deliver MicroCarb’s assembly integration and test (AIT) programme at National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF) in Harwell, UK.

Scheduled to open by 2020, the facility has received £99m in government funding.

“This facility will make Harwell a world-class hub for innovative space technology.”

UK Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “It is great to see our £99m investment in the new National Satellite Test Facility is already making a difference for the sector.

“This facility will make Harwell a world-class hub for innovative space technology, helping UK companies such as Thales Alenia Space be more competitive in the global market and support our ambition to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030.”

To be launched by 2020, the MicroCarb mission will be designed to measure sources and sinks of carbon, the principal greenhouse gas contributing global warming.

Once developed, the project will be the first European mission to characterise greenhouse gas fluxes on Earth’s surface and measure the volume of carbon being absorbed by oceans and forests, the main sinks on the planet.

The mission is also expected to assist the global efforts to measure how much carbon gas is being emitted by natural processes and human activities.

MicroCarb is further intended to enable the UK Space Agency and CNES to explore a longer term operational system in response to the Paris COP21 Agreement.