Space Agencies

UK science is best served by expert co-operation with the world’s leading space agencies, scientists and missions.

NCEO works with the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency (ESA), Eumetsat, the EC Copernicus programme and NASA to support  high quality science.

NCEO has the responsibility, on behalf of NERC, to convey the needs and aspirations of the whole NERC community to the UK Space Agency and to ESA in which the UK invests to support environmental science from space.

We ensure that the NERC community has supported access to satellite data, are able to propose and lead satellite missions for science, and we act as a champion for science in driving space technology development relevant to Earth Observation.

NCEO staff are involved in more than 20 EO instruments with ESA, Eumetsat, EC Copernicus, NASA and JAXA.

Our work includes:

  • Working with the UK Space Agency to provide a joined-up approach to UK science EO.
  • Playing leading roles in ESA missions through ESA’s Mission Advisory Groups, its data processing and science projects and ESA’s Earth Sciences Advisory Committee (ESAC);
  • Developing key EO data sets and exploiting them in conjunction with models
  • Providing science support for the EC’s Copernicus programme and Sentinel missions: NCEO scientists serve on the Sentinel-3 Mission Performance Centre; NCEO’s CEDA-CEMS is the UK data hub for Sentinel data;
  • Working on international space agency collaborations as co-investigators, particularly NASA’s OCO-2 and GPM missions.

EO missions NCEO is involved in:

ESA Earth Explorers

NCEO scientists have contributed to SMOS and GOCE, and will be heavily involved in Earthcare and BIOMASS


NCEO scientists are working on the science exploitation of Eumetsat weather observations and are providing key knowledge transfer to Eumetsat operational schemes.

EC Sentinels

NCEO scientists will play important roles in S3 and S5P data, and are exploiting the data from S1 and S2.

NASA OCO-2 mission

NCEO scientists are involved in cutting edge research on quality retrievals of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

NASA GPM mission

NCEO scientists are working on performance assessment and product improvement for global precipitation measurements.

Mapping biomass in the world's most important forest biomes

The European Space Agency project DUE-GlobBiomass aims to better characterize and to reduce the uncertainties of forest aboveground biomass. The international consortium of universities, research centres and companies includes NCEO scientists and leading EO experts across Europe, linked through Partnership Agreements with national bodies in Brazil, Canada, China, Russia and South Africa.

The team is developing innovative synergistic approaches to mapping, and will cover five regional sites for 2005, 2010 and 2015, and one global map for 2010. The NCEO at the University of Leicester is coordinating the regional mapping task for the five regions, which cover some of the most important forest biomes in the world.