ESA Bulletin 131 (August 2007)

Earth observation is the major theme in the August 2007 issue of the Bulletin. The ‘GMES’ series of observation satellites will help to provide the information needed to manage our environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change, and ensure civil security for Europe. The first three sets of ‘Sentinel’ satellites are already in development.
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Sentinel-1 is a pair of imaging radar satellites that will provide continuous all-weather day/night coverage for users. It will help to monitor sea ice and the Arctic, provide surveillance of the marine environment, monitor land movements, and map forests, water, soil and crops. Its maps will help the distribution of humanitarian aid in crisis situations. The first satellite is expected to be launched in 2011.

The Sentinel-2 satellites will routinely return high-resolution global optical images with frequent revisits tailored to the needs of land and emergency services. The first is planned for 2012.

The Sentinel-3 satellites will monitor Earth’s oceans, ice and land surfaces, extending and improving the services from today’s ERS, Envisat and Spot satellites. For example, their global vegetation data will be important for weather forecasting, global climate models and in climate and greenhouse gas monitoring. The first is expected in 2011/2012.

ESA’s family of Earth Explorer satellites is designed in response to specific critical issues raised by scientists, while demonstrating new observation technologies. The first six Explorer missions are being prepared for launch, and candidates for the seventh are now being assessed. The six new proposals focus on Earth’s carbon and water cycles, atmospheric chemistry and climate, with the human element as a cross-cutting issue.

Other articles look at a new generation of high-power but lightweight solar arrays to power telecommunications satellites, and the spectacular impact of ESA’s SMART-1 on the Moon at the end of a highly successful mission gathering new information about our nearest celestial neighbour.

The Bulletin is published four times a year to inform the space-interested public of ESA's activities. In addition to a wide range of articles, every issue provides an overview of the status of ESA's major space projects.

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