As part of the ongoing commitment to realise new satellite missions that advance our understanding of Earth, contribute to climate research, benefit society and demonstrate innovative space technologies, ESA soon expects to release a Call for Ideas for Earth Explorer 11, pending approval from Member States at the Programme Board for Earth Observation. The hope is to issue the Call before the end of May, with a deadline to submit full proposals by the end of October 2020.
This new Call follows the ‘Space 19+’ Council meeting at Ministerial Level held in November last year, where ESA’s Member States included a commitment to further strengthen ESA’s position as a world-leader in Earth observation.
Earth Explorer missions form part of the science and research element of ESA’s Future Earth Observation, or FutureEO, Programme.
Harnessing Europe’s technological excellence, these missions use innovative measurement techniques to deliver new insight into different aspects of the Earth system and the interactions that bind the system as a whole, along with a better appreciation of human impact on the natural environment. The science questions addressed also form the basis for development of new applications of Earth observation.
Earth Explorer missions are designed and built to fill knowledge gaps identified by the scientific community and, importantly, the community retains a key role in the proposal, peer review, selection and development process.
So far, nine Earth Explorers have been selected for implementation. The successfully completed GOCE mission mapped variations in Earth’s gravity with extreme detail and accuracy. Presently the four missions in operation CryoSat, SMOS, Swarm and Aeolus are providing new insight into Earth’s cryosphere, soil moisture and ocean salinity, the magnetic field and atmospheric circulation, respectively.
The four missions being built will provide key information on the effect of clouds and aerosols on Earth’s radiation budget, forest biomass, plant photosynthesis and the infrared energy emitted by the Earth system.
An additional three mission concepts are currently undergoing feasibility study and competing to be the tenth Earth Explorer.
Soon it will soon be time to look to the eleventh mission. ESA expects to release the Call for Ideas for Earth Explorer 11 after receiving approval from Member States before the end of May, with a deadline to submit proposals by the end of October 2020 – watch this space!