December 15, 2023 – Thales Alenia Space has selected the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), at RAL Space in Oxfordshire, for the first comprehensive assembly, integration and test campaign of the European Space Agency’s FLEX (Fluorescence Explorer) satellite. FLEX satellite will be used to map the fluorescence of the Earth’s vegetation, which will provide a better understanding of the Earth’s state of health and vegetation productivity on a global scale. As prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space will lead the satellite platform assembly, integration and test campaign planned in 2025, following the receipt of the FLORIS (Fluorescence Imaging Spectrometer) innovative instrument. Developed by Leonardo, this high-resolution imaging spectrometer will map the Earth’s vegetation fluorescence to quantify photosynthetic activity. Information from FLEX will improve our understanding of how carbon moves between plants and the atmosphere and how photosynthesis affects the carbon and water cycles. In addition, information from FLEX will give us a better insight into plant health. This is especially important today since the Earth’s growing population is placing increasing demands on the production of food and animal feed. It is estimated that there will have to be more than a 50% increase in agricultural production by 2050 to meet demand. Understanding plant health and productivity is therefore essential to managing resources. The FLEX satellite will orbit in tandem with one of the Sentinel-3 satellites (part of Europe’s Copernicus program), also built by Thales Alenia Space. It will take advantage of Sentinel-3’s optical and thermal sensors to provide an integrated package of measurements to assess plant health.