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N° 27–2013: Call for Media: don’t miss ESA’s largest scientific conference of the year devoted to Earth’s environment and climate

20 August 2013

Media representatives are invited to the Living Planet Symposium for the latest results from Europe’s satellites and achievements of ambitious Earth observation initiatives.

Held on 9–13 September at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, UK, the event brings together more than 1500 scientists and users from across the globe to present their latest findings on Earth’s environment and climate derived from satellite data.

The versatility of ESA’s Earth Explorer missions will be the main focus. The three missions in orbit are CryoSat, GOCE and SMOS. Over the past few years they have been providing new information on Earth’s cryosphere, gravity and soil moisture and ocean salinity, respectively, but there have also been several achievements that surpassed the original scope of these missions.

While CryoSat continues to measure the thickness and extent of sea ice and continental ice sheets, it has also proven capable of profiling land surfaces and inland water targets, monitoring sea-level changes and even contributing to the mapping of ocean floor topography.

Earth’s gravity mission, GOCE, has gathered enough data to map Earth’s gravity with unrivalled precision. Scientists further exploited these data to map of the boundary between Earth’s crust and mantle – called the Moho. GOCE also detected sound waves from the massive earthquake that hit Japan on 11 March 2011.

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite, SMOS, has been helping us to understand the water cycle. But the mission is also being used to monitor Arctic sea-ice extent and thickness, and can even determine wind speeds inside hurricanes.

The next Earth Explorer, Swarm, is planned for launch later this year. The three-satellite constellation aims to unravel one of the most mysterious aspects of our planet: the magnetic field.

The symposium will also see special sessions dedicated to ESA’s programmes and initiatives, including ESA’s key contribution to the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, recently renamed ‘Copernicus’. Financing for this ambitious programme was secured earlier this summer when European Parliament approved the multiannual financial framework budget for 2014–20.

Copernicus relies on the provision of robust data, predominantly from Earth observation satellites. ESA is developing the series of Sentinel satellites for this purpose, and the first satellites are expected to be launched within the next year.


The latest results from ESA’s missions and overview of the Earth Observation and Copernicus programme will be presented during the opening plenary session on Monday, 9 September, 10:30–12:00, followed by a 30-minute press briefing.


  • Welcome Address by the UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts
  • Welcome Address by Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General
  • ‘Earth Observation at the beginning of the 21st Century’ by Volker Liebig, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes
  • ‘Copernicus, the European Union Flagship Programme’ by Philippe Brunet, Director at DG Enterprise and Industry, Directorate of Aerospace, Maritime, Security and Defence Industries, European Commission
  • Highlights of Earth Explorer scientific results by Alan O’Neill, Chairman of ESAC


  • Media questions and answers session

The full technical programme will follow after the opening plenary session, and is open to media. Full programme at:

Media registration

For accreditation, please register at:

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. It is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Den-mark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working actively with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecom-munications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office, Communication Department


Tel: + 33 1 5369 7299