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Sea and space meet for business in Ireland
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Oct 10, 2012


Resembling the brush strokes of French Impressionist Claude Monet, electric blue-coloured plankton blooms swirl in the North Atlantic Ocean off Ireland in this Envisat image. Plankton, the most abundant type of life found in the ocean, are microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea. While individually microscopic, the chlorophyll they use for photosynthesis collectively tints the surrounding ocean waters, providing a means of detecting these tiny organisms from space with dedicated 'ocean colour' sensors, like Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), which acquired this image on 23 May 2010 at a resolution of 300 m. Credits: ESA.

A new ESA project led by Irish industry is putting satellite data to use for monitoring the quality of coastal water. The Irish minister for Research and Innovation is supporting this initiative, in line with the country's job creation priorities.

The project, led by Ireland's TechWorks Marine, working with Greek company Planetek Hellas, will combine satellite observations with data from ocean buoys to deliver timely, high-quality information for water and waste management operators.

This initiative not only aims to improve water quality, but also provides a new opportunity for growth in Ireland.

At the project's launch event last week, Ireland's Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, said, "Driving increased research and innovation in Irish companies is an absolute priority for this Government.

"Ireland's Action Plan for Jobs 2012 puts innovation and technology at the heart of enterprise and jobs policies, and working with the European Space Agency is an integral part of driving innovation and research in Ireland."

The minister went on to praise TechWorks Marine's commitment to developing environmental monitoring techniques.

"This is a significant win for TechWorks Marine and clearly indicates that Irish SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) have the capability and expertise to lead projects in this highly competitive sector."

Multinational environmental services provider Veolia aims ultimately to integrate this type of solution within its waste water and desalination offering. Initial service trials will be run in northwest Ireland's Donegal Bay, where Veolia operates a large waste water treatment facility.

Trials will also take place in the Middle East, where they operate major desalination facilities.

"As a global leader in environmental management, Veolia looks forward to innovative information services from this project to help us offer even more performing water and waste water management solutions worldwide," said Pierre Eymery, Managing Director of Veolia Water Ireland.

Charlotte O'Kelly, Managing Director of Techworks Marine, noted that the project, which is jointly funded by the ESA Strategic Initiative and the Earth Observation Envelope Programme, will in the future rely on data from the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-3 missions.

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