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The ESA Earth Observation
Programmes: status overview
Dr. Stephen Briggs
Head of Programme Planning and Coordination Services
Directorate of ESA Earth Observation Programmes
November 2011
In Orbit: ESA Earth Observation satellites
– Five EO missions in operation
5 more currently operated by
– Several thousand data user projects
worldwide– increasing further
– More than 100 Terabytes/yr of data
– 30 partner missions for which data
disseminated to European users
ERS-2 mission complete after 20 years
 ERS-2 operations came to an
end with satellite passivation on
5 September 2011
 De-orbitation consisted of
lowering the satellite to a
circular orbit @ 570km; from
here, it will re-enter the
atmosphere in about 15-20
 ESA took its responsibility of
helping space debris avoidance.
 ERS data will be kept and used
in the future, as many projects,
e.g. the GEO Supersites
Initiative, depend on them.
Final ERS-2 image, showing
Rome / Italy
Scientific & technical highlights of ERS-1/2
accurate determination of the ocean
seafloor, digital land elevation models
and motion and speed of large ice
first European measurement of global
pioneering use of the interferometric
ERS tandem mission allowed
generating global DEM up to very high
latitude with unmatched accuracy
discovery of Rossby waves -> revision
of the classical planetary wave theory
valuable data sets for hazard
mitigation and disaster response
ERS paved the way for imaging radar
and ‘interferometry’ technologies that
are being used in several current
satellites and will be carried on future
Overview of actual missions in space
 Envisat: 10th year in operation
 Envisat orbital change successfully
performed (October 2010)
 Collision warnings increasing
 GOCE has completed its nominal
2-year mission in March 2011
 Cryosat first sea ice thickness map
presented in June 2011
 SMOS RFI situation improving
 Next Explorer launch: Swarm in
July 2012
 Proba-1: 10 year anniversary
GOCE: nominal mission completed
 Completion of nominal
mission (6 uninterrupted global
measurement cycles) in March
 Excellent state of S/C after
2.5yrs in orbit
 Data give new high accuracy
insight in the spatial structure of
Earth’s gravity field
 Also for ocean currency GOCE
delivers on its promise.
 The next generation of GOCE
based gravity products will be
issued in the October / November
SMOS status approaching 2 years in orbit
SMOS continues to provide the
first global measurements of
two key variables in the
Earth’s water cycle – soil
moisture and ocean salinity
Amount of radio-frequency
interference that is
contaminating SMOS data has
reduced significantly over the
last year. ESA's Earth
Observation Frequency
Management and SMOS teams
work with international and
national committees and
organisations to detect and
shut down unwanted signals.
First global
map of soil
CryoSat ice thickness map of the Arctic
 1st map of sea-ice thickness
from ESA’s CryoSat mission
was revealed in June.
 This new info is set to
change our understanding of
the complex relationship
between ice and climate.
 This map was generated
based on data from January
and February 2011, as the
ice approaches its annual
 Data quality exceeds mission
 Variations in sea-ice
thickness will be seen as of
next year
Arctic sea ice decline 2011
Arctic sea ice extent for
May 2011 (12.79 million
km2) was the third
lowest in the satellite
data record since 1979
Sea ice extent in
September all time low
as measured by satellites
Image: Envisat MERIS, East Greenland coast and Greenland sea, 3 June 2011
Earth Explorer 7 status
 Status: Industrial Phase A system studies for the 3 missions are
progressing well and have passed the stage of the Prel. Concept Review
BIOMASS: single satellite carrying a P-band SAR to provide
continuous global interferometric and polarimetric radar
observations of forested areas.
CoReH2O / Snow mission: single satellite with dual
frequency (X, Ku), dual-polarisation SAR to observe snow /
ice at high spatial resolution
PREMIER: 3D fields of atmospheric composition in upper
troposphere and lower stratosphere with an infrared limbimaging spectrometer and a mm-wave limb-sounder.
Earth Explorer 8 status
 Status: The procurement process for the Phase A/B1 activities for both
mission candidates has started.
FLEX: to provide global maps of vegetation
fluorescence, which can be converted into an
indicator of photosynthetic activity -> to
improve our understanding of how much
carbon is stored in plants and their role in the
carbon and water cycles
 CarbonSat: to quantify and monitor the
distribution of carbon dioxide and methane ->
for a better understanding of the sources and
sinks of these two gases and how they are
linked to climate change.
Climate Change Initiative status
 All CCI teams have now
established robust and
detailed user requirements
 Most teams have also
completed the first version of
the Product Specifications
 Scientific interactions with
CMUG and different CCI
project teams continue to
develop fruitfully
 International coordination
is progressing constructively,
both within Europe, and
internationally via the recently
established CEOS WG-Climate
„Europe 2071“
Image: Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le
Développement and Ecole Nationale de la Météorologie, Météo-France
Meteosat Third Generation
 MTG is the successor programme
to the successful Meteosat
Second Generation
 The mission development is
currently in Phase B2
 Recent achievements & status:
 Consolidation of the system
baseline / satellite(s) architecture
 System Requirements Review
passed in spring
 finalisation of ITTs for the critical
Best Practice items
 the formal inclusion of Astrium
into the Leading consortium
GMES: Sentinel & GS status
 The Sentinel-Satellites (1A/B, 2A/B,
3A/B, 4 und 5“Precursor“) are under
development, Sentinel-5 in definition
 Sentinel-1: phase D activities
 Sentinel-2/3: phase C/D activities
 Sentinel-4: instrument configuration
swap on MTG-S
 Satellite launches as of mid 2013
 The ground segment (data reception,
processing and distribution) is being
GMES: data policy
 Sustainability of operational GMES
is the biggest political challenge
 ESA Member States have adopted
a FREE and OPEN data policy for
the Sentinel missions
Upcoming ESA EO launches
 The next two
launches of Earth
satellites will be:
 The MetOp-B
mission in spring
 The Swarm Earth
Explorer mission
in July 2012
Earth Observation programmes for C-MIN 2012
 EOEP-4
 MetOp Second Generation
 GMES Next Programmatic Period
Studies: next generation
 LoR Elements
Long Term Data Preservation
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