Facilities and Instrumentation

Our instruments, data facilities and key tools for Earth Observation support the work of NERC scientists undertaking research anywhere worldwide.

NCEO hosts dedicated infrastructure for processing and storing data and performing model comparisons, and provides a centralised source of instrumentation and measurement expertise to support Earth Observation science.

NCEO Airborne Remote Sensing Capability

NCEO have the instrumentation and capability to conduct airborne remote sensing campaigns in the UK, Europe and worldwide. Using a suite of image sensors covering spectral bands 400 to 2500 nm and 7.6 to 12.5 µm, allowing hyperspectral imaging and spectrometric data in the infrared ranges VNIR, SWIR and LWIR. This capability, coupled with 100 MP digital photography and a LiDAR capable of fullwave form, single and multiple point data provides a comprehensive remote sensing capability.

To calculate pixel size and swath width on the ground of the hyperspectral (Fenix) and Thermal (Owl) sensors please use Pixel Size and Swath Width Calculator.

This capability was formally offered by the NERC Airborne Research Facility but are now being extended and offered to the community by NCEO.

Environmental researchers across the NERC portfolio can access this airborne remote sensing acquisition capability via the UKRI grant process, via direct payment, or via other project funding (e.g. EU, ESA, commercial projects etc.). Please get in touch to discuss options and opportunities.

The opportunities can be accessed through NCEO’s Earth Observation Instrumentation and Facilities (EOIF) Division led by Professor Martin Wooster at NCEO, King’s College London. To discuss science opportunities please contact martin.wooster@kcl.ac.uk and to discuss detailed technical and planning information for airborne science contact Callum Middleton.

Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA)

NCEO offers access to data, alongside massive storage, processing and analysis capabilities, through the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) on the JASMIN computing infrastructure.

JASMIN hosts a range of activities, including the Climate and Environmental Monitoring from Space (CEMS) facility, to support the analysis requirements of the UK and European climate and environmental science community.

The CEDA Earth Observation data archive is the largest in the UK, with over a Petabyte of satellite data and related data products. It contains over two decades’ worth of satellite data from a range of satellite missions, whilst the data from the NERC ARSF aircraft campaigns extends back to 1982. It is the UK academic data hub for ESA’s Sentinel missions, with responsibility for storing data and providing access to it for the science community.

CEMS is run in collaboration with the Satellite Applications Catapult at Harwell to support scientists and industry working together to promote commercial exploitation of EO data. It offers access to collaborative workspaces, hosted processing, high performance computing, and a cloud computing environment that NERC scientists can access remotely.

Field Spectroscopy Facility (FSF)

NCEO provides governance and oversight of NERC’s Field Spectroscopy Facility at the University of Edinburgh, which provides optical sensing expertise and equipment for assessing the spectral properties of vegetation, rocks, soil and water under different observing conditions.

Ground-based spectral measurements are used to study critical environmental phenomena, such as the photosynthetic activity of vegetation or the changing albedo of snow and ice under different conditions. They are also important for developing and validating data products from satellite and aircraft missions.

The Facility includes a calibration and test laboratory for scientists to characterise new equipment. The FSF can support NERC science and the wider UK research community, subject to peer review and appropriate funding support for the type and size of project.

All new users are offered a period of extended training in both equipment use and measurement principles.

NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS)

The NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS) is based at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and overseen by NCEO on behalf of NERC.

NEODAAS offers a range of services that include:

  • bespoke training in Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems and access to computing (MAGEO GPU cluster)
  • acquisition and processing of data from a range of satellites
  • near real-time support and rapid response using satellite data
  • airborne data processing
  • code optimisation

NEODAAS offer near-real-time data products, with the capability to download and synthesize data from a number of satellites as soon as it is available, including chlorophyll concentration and sea surface temperature (SST). The NEODAAS team can facilitate dynamic projects, such as research cruises, where timely access to satellite data is invaluable in guiding campaigns.

NEODAAS AI expertise has widened the service to even more users. Researchers looking to undertake machine learning projects can now access PML’s Massive GPU for Earth Observation (MAGEO) cluster via an easy-to-use web front end (MAGEOHub) — as well as training tailored to their research needs.

NEODAAS offers support for optimising Earth Observation applications. Our experts can work with you to identify the best approach to improve the efficiency of your software, via a Code Optimisation Service, reducing processing time and energy usage where possible.

Researchers applying for NERC funding can include NEODAAS support via a technical assessment, for other funding sources an ‘open access’ system is available.

NEODAAS aims to assist as many researchers as possible, across an enormous range of science interests/areas. If you feel your project could benefit from any of the services listed above, please get in touch.

For NEODAAS support, contact helpdesk@neodaas.ac.uk where you can access training independent of making a full request.

Other NCEO Capabilities

We are contributing instruments to the network of ground-based Fourier Transform Spectrometers, called TCCON, to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane and other gases at about 18 sites around the globe to validate satellite observations.

Other publicly available data include measurements of atmospheric aerosols from the FSF Cimel sun photometer, which is part of the global AERONET sun photometer network. Other EO measurement capabilities within NCEO institutions include Fourier Transform IR Spectroscopy, terrestrial laser scanning and IR imaging.

NCEO institutions have developed a range of retrieval algorithm, data assimilation models, analysis tools and underpinning data that can be used to either simulate or best exploit key EO datasets. The expertise in these and other widely used third-party tools are available to the research community in the UK and internationally.

NCEO Capital Items

The PDF below contains a list of NCEO Instruments available for use with potential collaborators. If you have a proposal, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch with the relevant contact by e-mail.

Capital Items PDF

Video about the NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility