Part one of the series 'ERS-Watching The World.' ESA's European Remote Sensing satellites ERS-1 and ERS-2 were launched in 1991 and 1995 respectively. In addition to providing scientific data, these satellites now support operational and commercial applications of Earth observation worldwide. This five-part series gives an overview of the structure, use and capabilities of the ERS satellites. 'The Ongoing Mission' describes the structure of the ERS satellites, and examines the functions of their various instruments; ground support for the missions is also discussed.