An Earth Explorer
Earth Explorers are a series of Earth observation missions that focus on the science and research elements of ESA’s Living Planet Programme. Developed in direct response to issues identified by the scientific community, they aim to improve our understanding of how the Earth system works and how human activity is affecting natural Earth processes.
Earth Explorers are also designed to demonstrate breakthrough technology in remote sensing techniques and, together with the scientific questions addressed, form the basis for the development of new applications for Earth observation data.
CryoSat was the first Earth Explorer mission to be selected in 1999, but the original satellite was lost due to a launch failure in October 2005. Following the loss, the mission was judged to be even more important than when it was first selected for development, and the decision to rebuild was taken.
Almost exactly four years to the day after that decision, the new CryoSat-2, with a number of improvements, was ready for launch.
Two other Earth Explorers also launched recently: GOCE, ESA’s gravity mission was launched in March 2009, and SMOS, ESA’s water mission was launched in November 2009. CryoSat-2 was launched on 8 April 2010.