SMOS mission ground segment

Aerial view of ESAC

SMOS will provide global measurements of soil moisture and ocean salinity, two key variables in the water cycle. In order to turn these first observations into meaningful data, there are a number of steps that have to be taken.

This part of the mission involves the ground segment, which essentially consists of two main components: satellite operations and data receiving, processing and storing stations. The French space agency (CNES) operates the satellite, and ESA coordinates the mission and ground segment operations.

The main ground stations is the Data Processing Ground Segment (DPGS), developed in cooperation with Spain's CDTI (Centro para el Desarrollo Technologico Industrial), at ESA’s European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), in Villafranca, Spain. Here data from the satellite are received and processed, and CNES’ Satellite Operations Ground Segment (SOGS) in Toulouse, France, sends commands to the satellite.

In addition to these facilities, various functions are carried out at other ESA receiving stations. A near-real time (NRT) acquisition station is in Svalbard, Norway, and a long-term archive and reprocessing centre is in Kiruna, Sweden. Request for SMOS data is handled at ESA’s Earth Observation Research Centre (ESRIN) in Frascati, Italy.

Once data reach the DPGS they are calibrated, processed, archived and disseminated to users. There will be two parallel processing chains for the scientific and NRT data products, the latter of which is distributed to operational users within three hours.

All products are available free of charge to scientific and non-commercial users. They are made available through the ESA category-1 procedure, either through dedicated Announcements of Opportunities or, for users who have not participated in the past Announcements, a registration service online at ESA's Principal Investigator Portal.

Last update: 2 November 2010

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