Earth from Space: The future of Earth observation

20 April 2012

This week’s image is an example of the high-resolution images that the future Sentinel-2 mission – envisaged for launch next year – will deliver.

Using observations from the German RapidEye satellites, the image covers the border area of northern Switzerland, southern Germany and eastern France, and includes a small portion of Austria and Lichtenstein.

Zurich
A crop over Zurich

To the east is Lake Constance – an important source of drinking water for southwest Germany.

To its south is Lake Zurich, with the city of Zurich at its northern tip. At a resolution of 10 m per pixel, it is possible to zoom in to see details such as buildings and roads.

The dark area in the centre of the image is Germany’s Black Forest. Here we can see where the image was 'stitched' together with the varying shades of colour. The difference in the original images is due to varying atmospheric conditions between RapidEye passes.

Germany's Black Forest
Germany's Black Forest

Further west, we can clearly see part of the Rhine River as it flows north. The Rhine is one of the longest rivers in Europe, and many castles and prehistoric fortifications along the river testify to its importance as a waterway.

This Sentinel-2 mockup was constructed using 82 RapidEye images. The mosaic shows what a Sentinel-2 product could look like, with a swath of 290 km and a resolution of 10 m per pixel.

Sentinel-2 is one of five Sentinel missions that ESA is developing for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme.

Planned for launch in 2013, it will deliver frequent and systematic high-resolution optical imagery of Earth’s landmasses, supporting operational applications in agriculture, forestry, land cover and cartography.

The mission will support humanitarian relief work and provide data useful to multiple Earth science fields.

The first Sentinel-2 Preparatory Symposium will be hosted from 23 to 27 April at ESRIN, ESA's centre for Earth observation, in Frascati, Italy.

The Image of the Week is featured on ESA Web-TV, broadcast online every Friday at 10:00 CET.

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