GLIMPS: GNSS-R is to Act as Environment Police

An English aerospace company has kicked off a GNSS-R project to detect plastics in oceans.

Based in Harwell Village, UK, and as a subsidiary of a Spanish firm, Deimos Space UK Ltd introduced themselves as the pioneer in the use of GPS-Reflectometry to help us in coping with micro-plastic disasters in oceans by starting a one-year project, called GLIMPS. The idea, which is selected and funded by ESA, is applying bistatic radar to detect micro-plastics in the ocean as plastic particles reduce ocean roughness and increase the bistatic reflection towards GNSS antennas. The main goal of this project is to produce global maps for micro-plastics concentration in oceans using machine learning algorithms.

Although the idea looks fantastic, there are serious questions regarding its applicability as the GNSS-R scatterometry micro-satellites have only shown potential for mesoscale ocean eddies measurement so far (e.g. look this). How micro-plastics are going to increase the signal power reflected from ocean with relatively large crests and troughs? We are looking forward to seeing more updates from this new ESA-funded project submitted to Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP).

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