The current suite of Sentinel missions are at the heart of the Copernicus programme, led by the European Commission.
Data from the Copernicus Sentinels, which are developed by ESA, feed into the Copernicus Services, which help address challenges such as urbanisation, food security, rising sea levels, diminishing polar ice, natural disasters and, of course, climate change.
Looking to the future, six high-priority candidate missions are being studied to address EU policy and gaps in Copernicus user needs, and to expand the current capabilities of the Copernicus space component.
CHIME – Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission
The CHIME mission would carry a unique visible to shortwave infrared spectrometer to provide routine hyperspectral observations to support new and enhanced services for sustainable agricultural and biodiversity management, as well as soil property characterisation. The mission would complement Copernicus Sentinel-2 for applications such as land-cover mapping.
CIMR – Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer
The CIMR mission would carry a wide-swath conically-scanning multi-frequency microwave radiometer to provide observations of sea-surface temperature, sea-ice concentration and sea-surface salinity. Uniquely, it would also observe a wide range of other sea-ice parameters. CIMR responds to high-priority requirements from key Arctic user communities.
CO2M – Copernicus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Monitoring
The CO2M mission would carry a near-infrared and shortwave-infrared spectrometer to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human activity. These measurements would reduce current uncertainties in estimates of emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuel at national and regional scales. This would provide the EU with a unique and independent source of information to assess the effectiveness of policy measures, and to track their impact towards decarbonising Europe and meeting national emission reduction targets.
CRISTAL – Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter
CRISTAL would carry a multi-frequency radar altimeter and microwave radiometer to measure and monitor sea-ice thickness and overlying snow depth. It would also measure and monitor changes in the height of ice sheets and glaciers around the world. Measurements of sea-ice thickness would support maritime operations in polar oceans and, in the longer term would help in the planning of activities in the polar regions. Since inter-annual sea-ice variability is sensitive to climate change, the mission would contribute to a better understand of climate processes.
LSTM – Copernicus Land Surface Temperature Monitoring
The LSTM mission would carry a high spatial-temporal resolution thermal infrared sensor to provide observations of land-surface temperature. The mission responds to priority requirements of the agricultural user community for improving sustainable agricultural productivity at field-scale in a world of increasing water scarcity and variability. Land-surface temperature measurements and derived evapotranspiration are key variables to understand and respond to climate variability, manage water resources for agricultural production, predict droughts and also to address land degradation, natural hazards such as fires and volcanoes, coastal and inland water management as well as urban heat island issues.
ROSE-L – L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar
ROSE-L would carry an L-band SAR. Since the longer L-band signal can penetrate through many natural materials such as vegetation, dry snow and ice, the mission would provide additional information that cannot be gathered by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 C-band radar mission. It would be used in support of forest management, to monitor subsidence and soil moisture and to discriminate crop types for precision farming and food security. In addition, the mission would contribute to the monitoring of polar ice sheets and ice caps, sea-ice extent in the polar region, and of seasonal snow.