Cold Atom Gravity Explorer (CAGE), a project led by Teledyne e2v has been announced as one of ten projects to extend the UK’s leadership in Earth Observation (EO). The project will be funded by the UK Space Agency’s Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI), to develop a mission for a quantum gravity sensor for Earth observation from space. The project will explore a range of new mission concepts that could be enabled by new technology based on cold atom interferometry. The mission concepts are enabled by previous Innovate UK projects which have focussed on miniaturising key components and ensuring they are space ready.
The CAGE consortium includes STC RAL Space, University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, University of Reading, University of Bristol, Newcastle University and British Geological Survey. The project brings together key UK experts in global EO, solid Earth, hydrological and glacial science, geodesy and satellite orbits, with industrial and academic quantum sensor experts. The consortium will engage with the user community to maximise the commercial and scientific benefit of a future high-resolution gravity mission.
Space gravity measurements are critical to many EO applications including understanding climate change, detecting underground water resources and oil and gas prospecting. In addition quantum gravity sensors promise a high-resolution and sensitivity which would allow the sensing of subsurface structures, providing extra detail for EO applications.