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UK Earth Observation Hub Plans Revealed

July 21, 2010

UK Science Minister David Willetts has announced plans to open an observation hub designed to keep tabs on ecological information, including data related to deforestation and climate change, according to a Wednesday BBC News report.

The $7.6 million monitoring station will be located at the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC), Harwell, Oxfordshire, which is scheduled to open next April, according to Science Correspondent Pallab Ghosh. Not only will is act as a hub for those studying Earth sciences, including the impact of global warming on the planet, but it will also serve as a flight operations base for UK satellites.

As many as 40 scientists and researchers are expected to work at the observation center.

“By bringing together the best of our space science base with industrial researchers, we hope to develop a wide range of applications,” Professor Alan O’Neill, director of the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), told Ghosh on Wednesday. “These include global monitoring of deforestation, concentration of greenhouse gasses, and levels of marine pollution.”

The announcement came during the Farnborough Air Show.

“It will help UK scientists make the most of the wealth of information we are collecting about our home planet, in vital areas such as monitoring the effects of climate change, so we can respond quickly to natural disasters throughout the world,” Willetts told Clive Cookson of Financial Times.

“The Earth Observation Hub will enable the UK to operate advanced spacecraft and process the data from them, transforming large amounts of complex information into answers to questions on climate change and its effect on our environment, and laying the foundations for new applications of space data,” Keith Mason, the Chief Executive of the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), added in an STFC press release dated July 21.

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