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N° 25–2009: SMOS launch nearing: Media Day at ESA/ESRIN

9 October 2009

On Wednesday 21 October, media representatives will have the opportunity to attend an in-depth briefing at ESA's ESRIN establishment in Frascati near Rome on the upcoming mission of SMOS, ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite scheduled for a Rockot launch from Plesetsk, Russia on 2 November at 02:50 hours Central European Time.


ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes Volker Liebig, together with other European experts from participating space agencies and industry, will present the SMOS mission and its scientific objectives and will be available for interviews.

Following the successful launch of GOCE on 17 March, SMOS will be the European Space Agency's second Earth Explorer satellite under its Living Planet Programme to go into orbit. After the successful launch in 2002 of Envisat, the largest Earth observation satellite ever built, ESA started developing the Earth Explorer series of missions to provide a moderate-cost, fast response to important scientific challenges using cutting-edge technologies.

SMOS will primarily observe soil moisture over the Earth's landmasses and salinity over the oceans. Soil-moisture data are urgently required for hydrological studies; ocean-salinity data are vital for improving our understanding of ocean circulation patterns. Data from SMOS will lead to a better understanding of the Earth's water cycle and to better weather and extreme-event forecasting and will contribute to seasonal-climate forecasting. As a secondary objective, SMOS will also provide observations over snow and ice regions, contributing to study of the cryosphere.

One innovative feature of this mission is that it will demonstrate a new measuring technique adopting a completely different approach to observing the Earth from space. The truly novel MIRAS payload instrument which has been developed is capable of observing both soil moisture and ocean salinity by capturing images of microwave radiation emitted from the Earth's surface around a frequency of 1.4 GHz (L-band). SMOS will carry the first ever polar-orbiting, space-borne, 2D interferometric radiometer.

The programme for the SMOS Media Day on 21 October at ESA/ESRIN will run as follows:

09:00 – 11:00

Transfer from Rome airports (Fiumicino, Ciampino) to ESA/ESRIN

10:00 – 11:00



ESA's Earth Observation Programmes (including update on GOCE and ESA's Climate Change Initiative)

Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation Programmes, ESA


The SMOS mission

Susanne Mecklenburg, SMOS Mission Manager, ESA


The French role in SMOS

François Bermudo, SMOS Project Manager, CNES


The Spanish role in SMOS

Jorge Lomba, Head of the ESA Programmes Department, CDTI


The scientific objectives of SMOS

Matthias Drusch, SMOS Mission Scientist, ESA


Latest update on SMOS launch preparations in Plesetsk

Achim Hahne, SMOS Project Manager, ESA


Question & Answer session

12:45 – 14:00

Individual interview opportunities

12:45 – 14:00

Buffet lunch


End of event

Transfer to Rome airports

Media representatives wishing to attend this event are kindly requested to fill in the attached registration form and email or fax it back by Monday 19 October to:

Dieter Isakeit

Head of the ESA-ESRIN Corporate Communication Office

Via Galileo Galilei

00044 Frascati, Rome


Fax +39 06 941 80 952

Tel: +39 06 941 80 950


Media Accreditation Form

SMOS Media Day


Via Galileo Galilei, 00044 Frascati, Rome

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

First name: _________________ Last Name:____________________

Media: _____________________________________________________

Address: ___________________________________________________


Tel: _____________________ Mobile: ________________________

Email: ____________________________________________________

[ ] YES, I shall be attending the SMOS Media Day at ESA/ESRIN

TV networks: please list all members of your crew (if applicable):

Name: ________________________ Function: _________________

Name: _________________________ Function: _________________

Name: _________________________ Function: _________________

Please return this form by email or fax by Monday 19 October 2009 to:

Dieter Isakeit


Fax +39 06 941 80 952



For further information:

ESA - Media Relations Office

Tel: +33.1.5369.7299

Fax: +33.1.5369.7690