Mike is presenting on ESA’s Earth observation programme

Why do we do EO? Where are we heading in this field? I work on strategy trying to answer, What next?

Satellites reduce uncertainties! the more spectral bands — wavelengths — with which you observe a target, the more you learn about it.

ESA works not in isolation but with national agencies and space industry so we avoid duplication and reinforce each other.

We have three main EO ‘streams’:

  1. Operational weather satellites – done together with Eumetsat
  2. Operational satellites, except for meteorology, e.g. EO missions for up-to-date data form farming, land management, etc. Now, this has evolved into the EU-led GMES programme
  3. Research satellites

Envisat had a mass of 8.2tonnes – it was an absolutely daring endeavour and was aimed at studying the interaction between ocean, atmosphere and land.

Mission ended on 8 Apr, after tens years and generating +1 Petabyte of data

Successor instruments will be flown on the GMES Sentinel missions; some instruments that were originally research only have evolved into operational sensors as their data have become widely used and needed

Envisat achievements: study global air pollution, oil slicks/pollution, ice recession, earthquake/volcanic effects, Hurricane effects (which data helped support the Montreal Protocol), CO2 mapping, Japan massive quake in 2011

GMES Sentinel missions will take over the work of Envisat with renewed, updated and dedicated instruments

Sep 2012 was the lowest-ever ice cover observed on earth!

In the past three decades, we have lost > 37% of our arctic ice mass! Forecast by IGPCG was unfortunately low; that we’d have an ice-free arctic in summer in 70-80 years. It’s closer to 15 to 20 years! CryoSat and GOCE data are crucial in determining this.

Earth’s mag field is weakening, at a rapid rate. Polarity my flip in hundreds of thousands (or million) years. SWARM will measure this, as well as the influence of space weather on earth. This is also crucial for earthquake research.