The Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies (TRUTHS) mission offers a novel approach to the provision of key scientific data with unprecedented radiometric accuracy for Earth Observation (EO) and solar studies, which will also establish well-calibrated reference targets/standards to support other EO missions. This paper presents the TRUTHS mission and its objectives. TRUTHS will be the first satellite mission to calibrate its EO instrumentation directly to SI in orbit, overcoming the usual uncertainties associated with drifts of sensor gain and spectral shape by using an electrical rather than an optical standard as the basis of its calibration. The range of instruments flown as part of the payload will also provide accurate input data to improve atmospheric radiative transfer codes by anchoring boundary conditions, through simultaneous measurements of aerosols, particulates and radiances at various heights. Therefore, TRUTHS will significantly improve the performance and accuracy of EO missions with broad global or operational aims, as well as more dedicated missions. The provision of reference standards will also improve synergy between missions by reducing errors due to different calibration biases and offer cost reductions for future missions by reducing the demands for on-board calibration systems. Such improvements are important for the future success of strategies such as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and the implementation and monitoring of international treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol. TRUTHS will achieve these aims by measuring the geophysical variables of solar and lunar irradiance, together with both polarised and unpolarised spectral radiance of the Moon, Earth and its atmosphere. Published by Elsevier Ltd of behalf of COSPAR.