Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 117

Submission from Satellite Observing Systems (SOS)

    —  Satellite Observing Systems (SOS) is one of the very few UK commercial companies certainly the longest serving providing value-added marine products from satellite observations.

    —  When it comes to marine environmental monitoring there is a very strong case for breaking the mould. We have been doing things the same way for too long.

    —  The current GMES programme proposes, yet again, a series of single satellite missions. We are all too familiar with their performance. Certainly, their observations will add to the climatological type of date bases that are essential to detecting slow, long-term trends; but, they will contribute little or nothing to the future needs of both DEFRA and commercial marine operations for near real-time information on impending threats.

    —  There are also substantial societal benefits to be derived from building on this country's world lead in the manufacture of small satellites that would complement the sparse coverage of these GMES single missions. Leading on a system with the capacity to warn emerging nations of the next impending disaster would do nothing to harm this country's Image abroad.

    —  The Disaster Monitoring Constellation pioneered by SSTL to monitor over land is the first in the world. By attracting investments from other nations It has been a commercial success for this country. It may be argued that the need for an international maritime surveillance system is even stronger.

    —  Many people in space now support the case for creating a modest national programme to complement our subscription to ESA missions. Developing relatively low-cost small satellites to form the cornerstone of a system that permits more reliable monitoring of our marine environment must count as a strong candidate.

January 2007

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