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N° 26–2011: Call for Media: 20 years of ERS missions

6 October 2011

ERS-2 was retired from service in September. To mark the 20 years of the ERS Earth observation mission at ESA, media are invited to ESA headquarters in Paris on 12 October. The event will highlight the key scientific and technological achievements of the mission.


The ERS-1 satellite was launched in 1991, followed by ERS-2 four years later. With 20 years of continuous measurements, the two missions paved the way for the development of many new Earth observation techniques.

The satellites carried the same suite of instruments, including the first long-term imaging radar, a radar altimeter monitoring sea-level change and other powerful instruments to measure ocean-surface temperature and winds at sea.

ERS-2 also carried the first European high-precision instrument to measure atmospheric ozone. It was crucial for observing the evolution of annual ozone depletion over Antarctica. Although ERS-2 was originally meant to be a three-year mission, it far exceeded its planned lifetime and continued to deliver crucial Earth observation data for 16 years. On 5 September 2011, the veteran satellite was finally shut down.

The 20 years of data from both ERS missions will continue to be used by scientists for their Earth studies and climate change research for years to come.

The missions also paved the way for imaging radar and ‘interferometry’ technologies that are being used in several current satellites and will be carried on future missions.

The Agency’s Director General, the director of Earth observation and a key scientist involved in ERS from the very beginning will discuss the main findings and achievements of the missions.

For more information on the missions, visit the ERS website at

Media wishing to attend this event, which begins at 18:00 CEST on Wednesday, 12 October, should fill in the online accreditation form:

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office

Communication Department

Tel: + 33 1 5369 7299

Fax: + 33 1 5369 7690

Robert Meisner

Communication Programme Officer

Earth Observation Programme

Tel: +39 06 941 80874

Fax: +39 06 941 80842



For further information:

ESA - Media Relations Office

Tel: +33.(0)1.5369.7299

Fax: +33.(0)1.5369.7690