Numerous scientific missions using Earth observation satellites are currently in existence. These missions provide valuable data for research into areas such as the atmospheric composition, polar ice cap depletion and ocean temperature of our home planet. Whilst these missions are providing important data about the Earth they do not provide it with enough regularity and consistency for operational services.
Science missions give humankind inspiration and aspiration. Space science makes us look outwards from our planet, towards the stars. It tries to answer the ultimate questions:
By studying other planets such as Venus, Mars, or Saturn’s moon Titan, we can place our own in context. Our exploration of the Solar System is focused on understanding Earth's relationship with the other planets, an essential stepping stone for exploring the wider Universe. In the next decade, our research will shed new light on planets around other stars. Detailed knowledge of our own Solar System will be invaluable in the interpretation of these new results.
Satellites are an invisible utility: the services they provide are everywhere and we don’t even notice them. But, what is a satellite and what do they do?
Anything in orbit around the Earth is technically a satellite, such as the Moon, however we tend to think of satellites as an object deliberately sent into space to perform a specific task or function. These man made, or artificial, satellites can be as small as a shoe box or as big as a car. The function a satellite is designed to fulfil will determine what kind of sensors, transmitters and receivers it carries.
The functions they fulfil fall around four main areas, and case studies to demonstrate their uses are listed. Click on the links below to find out how satellites play a vital role in your everyday life: