Space project will help Singapore manage water

View of Singapore.

An international space project to develop a new Earth observation mission will help Singapore manage climate change and water demand.

The project, which has won £75,000 funding from the UK Space Agency, will focus on monitoring air pollution and atmospheric weather forecasting, and aims to better measure climate change and inform disaster response in Singapore and wider regions. Global climate change is a national priority for Singapore, which is often impacted by high levels of air pollution, particularly when wildfires in neighbouring countries cause haze.

The growing population and economy are also increasing water demand and putting pressure on the water supply, which is vulnerable to climate change and weather patterns. The UK's largest regional space cluster, Space South Central (SSC) secured the funding and the project is led by the University of Surrey. SSC will work with counterparts in Singapore to develop critical instrumentation which can obtain data vital to understanding the challenges and impact presented by climate change.

“The cluster team has been working closely with experts in Singapore to understand what’s needed to help the island country cope with climate change."

Dr Chris Bridges, Surrey Space Centre

The University of Surrey’s Dr William Lovegrove, who leads on international liaison for Space South Central, said, “This project, developing critical instrumentation for climate change monitoring, encompasses so much of the newly-announced National Space Strategy by unlocking growth through international collaboration. By combining our expertise and resources, we anticipate creating a new scientific satellite mission that not only addresses global challenges but also fosters stronger ties between our nations in the context of this significant trade agreement.”  

The project will incorporate innovative electronic propulsion technology, onboard artificial intelligence processing technology, next-generation sensors enabled by quantum technology, and miniaturised timing mechanisms. These will form a very low-earth-orbit constellation to contribute to the sustainable use of space, and address critical environmental issues like air pollution and weather forecasting.

Dr Chris Bridges, principal Investigator for the project from Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, said, “The cluster team has been working closely with experts in Singapore to understand what’s needed to help the island country cope with climate change. The cutting-edge and disruptive technologies emerging from the Universities of Surrey, Portsmouth and Southampton are combining to solve problems.” 

Dr Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said, “Projects such as the University of Surrey’s work with Singapore to advance sustainability and scientific sensors, highlight the many ways in which we can collaborate with the global space community to help humanity push the boundaries of space innovation and unlock commercial opportunities that will benefit our economy now and in the future.”

The latest funding comes from the UK Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund. The project also involves Singapore’s Office for Space Technology & Industry, Singapore’s Agency for Science Technology & Research, National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University. In the UK, it also involves Southampton and Portsmouth universities.