Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Industry and Business News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Landmark Year Ahead For Earth Observation Science Missions

SMOS payload undergoing testing in the Large Space Simulator at ESA-ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. A 'solar beam', six metres in diameter, was repeatedly shone onto instrument. The instrument was also subjected to low temperatures of deep space. These tests simulated the different intensities of solar radiation the satellite will experience in orbit. Credits: ESA
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Jan 20, 2009
With three Earth Explorer satellites set to launch this year, another three under construction and up to three more about to be selected for feasibility study, 2009 promises to be a significant year for ESA's contribution to Earth science - paving the way to a clearer understanding of how our planet works.

Understanding how the Earth works and the way in which natural processes respond to global climate change is a major challenge facing science today. Encompassing a new approach to observing the Earth from space, ESA's Earth Explorer missions are developed in direct response to a range of Earth-science challenges identified by the scientific community.

The fundamental principle of defining, developing and operating missions in close cooperation with the scientific community aims to provide an efficient tool with which to address pressing Earth-science questions as effectively as possible. In addition, the scientific issues addressed also form the basis for the development of new applications for Earth observation data.

This user-driven approach has so far realised six Earth Explorers, three of which planned for launch this year, as well as another six concepts for new missions that are being presented to the scientific community next week in Lisbon, Portugal. The six candidate missions will subsequently undergo a selection process to enter the next phase of development.

The first Earth Explorer to launch is ESA's gravity mission GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer), which although delayed last year due to a problem with the Russian launcher, is scheduled to lift-off in March. GOCE will map global variations in the gravity field with extreme detail and accuracy. This is crucial for deriving accurate measurements of ocean circulation and sea-level rise, both of which are affected by climate change.

Next up is SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity), which is planned to launch in July. Currently, the satellite is in storage at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France. Once launched, SMOS will deliver data to address the current lack of global observations of soil moisture and ocean salinity. These data are needed to further our knowledge of the water cycle and contribute to weather, extreme-event forecasting and seasonal-climate forecasting.

Towards the end of 2009, ESA's ice mission CryoSat-2 will launch. With diminishing ice cover a reality, CryoSat-2 has been designed to measure the exact rate of change in the thickness of ice floating in the oceans and ice sheets on land. This will help explain the connection between the loss of polar ice, the rise in sea levels and climate change.

It is planned that the launches this year will be followed by the Atmospherics Dynamics Mission ADM-Aeolus and the magnetic field mission Swarm, both in the 2010 timeframe.

ADM-Aeolus will be the first space mission to measure wind profiles on a global scale. It will improve the accuracy of numerical weather forecasting and advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and processes relevant to climate variability and climate modelling. Swarm will provide high-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength and direction of the Earth's magnetic field.

Then in the 2013 timeframe, the EarthCARE mission (Earth Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation Explorer) is planned for launch. EarthCARE will address the need for a better understanding of the interactions between cloud, radiative and aerosol processes that play a role in climate regulation.

As part of the on-going user-driven approach to implementing new science and research Earth observation missions, six new concepts have just completed their two year-long assessment studies. On 20-21 January, over 250 leading members of the science community will gather in Lisbon, Portugal to attend the Earth Explorer User Consultation Meeting to review these six mission concepts, which comprise:

A-SCOPE - to observe atmospheric carbon dioxide for a better understanding of the carbon cycle

BIOMASS - to observe global forest biomass for a better understanding of the carbon cycle

CoReH2O - to observe snow and ice for a better understanding of the water cycle

FLEX - to observe photosynthesis for a better understanding of the carbon cycle

PREMIER - to observe atmospheric composition for a better understanding of chemistry-climate interactions

TRAQ - to observe tropospheric composition for a better understanding of air quality.

Following the meeting and taking into account opinion from the science community, ESA's Programme Board for Earth Observation will select up to three missions for feasibility study - the next step of the implementation cycle. A further down-selection will lead to ESA's seventh Earth Explorer mission - envisaged to launch around 2016.

In conclusion, the launch of three Earth Explorer satellites, the further selection of three missions to go to the next phase of implementation and the on-going development of three Earth Explorers means that 2009 is set to be a challenging year for the science and research element of ESA's Earth Observation Programmes.

Related Links
Earth Explorer 2009
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


Satellite to keep eye on Ecuadoran turtle
Quito, Ecuador (UPI) Jan 13, 2009
Scientists will use space technology to help them monitor a rare hawksbill turtle as it lives out its life along the coast of Ecuador, the government says.







  • China wary about the power of netizens in 2009: analysts
  • Autodesk exec Carol Bartz to become Yahoo! CEO: WSJ
  • Experience High-Speed Data Communications With ThurayaIP
  • New Yahoo! CEO a no-nonsense Silicon Valley veteran

  • First ULA Delta IV Heavy NRO Mission Successfully Lifts Off From Cape Canaveral
  • New Skies NSS-9 Satellite Arrives In Kourou For February 12 Launch
  • Sea Launch Selected To Launch Intelsat 17
  • Malfunctioning Component Delays Satellite Launch

  • Air China expects to post 'significant loss' for 2008
  • Nations demand climate plan from air, maritime industries
  • Heathrow expansion to get green light despite protests: reports
  • Cathay defers completion of new cargo terminal due to downturn

  • Australia Chips In A Spare Quarter For Boeing Wideband Global SATCOM Bird
  • Boeing Completes Critical Design Review For FAB-T Software-Defined Radio
  • Boeing Increases Capability Of On-Orbit US Navy Satellite
  • Boeing Develops Common Software To Reduce Risk For TSAT

  • Next Generation Cloaking Device Demonstrated
  • Raytheon Sensor Passes Space Simulation Test
  • Lockheed Martin Begins Key Test Of First SBIRS Geo Satellite With New Flight Software
  • Princeton Researchers Discover New Type Of Laser

  • Stevens New Director Of Communications And Public Outreach For Space Foundation
  • ATK Appoints Blake Larson To Lead Space Systems Group
  • Berndt Feuerbacher New President Of IAU
  • Orbital Appoints Frank Culbertson And Mark Pieczynski To Management

  • Landmark Year Ahead For Earth Observation Science Missions
  • Satellite to keep eye on Ecuadoran turtle
  • Mapping In A One Meter Sea Level Rise
  • DMCii and DynAgra Help Farmers Control Costs And Boost Yields

  • China To Have Global Satellite Navigation System By 2015
  • ecoRoute From Garmin Helps Lessen Carbon Footprint Of Cars
  • Samsungs Processor Powers Lowrance HDS Series Of GPS-Chartplotter And Fishfinder Systems
  • Tele Atlas Maps Featured In New Mio Devices

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement