Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission to measure ocean's surface topography with high-precision (Image: NASA)

The development and production contract for the Jason-CS/Sentinel-6A satellite has been signed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, at the 36th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment in Berlin.

Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 is a mission allowing to measure ocean surface topography with high-precision and to create a global map. The cycle of observations is repeated every 10 days with an accuracy of few centimetres from the oceans’surface. The Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 satellites will ensure that measurements are carried out on a continuous basis from the years 2020 and 2026 respectively.

The data will provide insights into global sea levels, the speed and direction of ocean currents, and ocean heat storage allowing for improved weather forecasts and storm surge warnings.

The Sentinel-6 mission is part of Copernicus, the European Earth observation... read more

Publishing Date: 13/05/2015
London/UK (Image: ESA)

On 18 March, the European Space Agency ESA and the UK Space Agency have signed an arrangement at ESA’s Headquarters in Paris, that establishes access to data from the Sentinel satellites, marking a significant step in their exploitation.

The agreement aims to facilitate Sentinel data exploitation in the UK. The UK Space Agency will coordinate ground segment activities in the UK – such as hosting, distributing, ensuring access and archiving Sentinel data  – and act as an interface between ESA and national initiatives. This will be done through a ‘national mirror site’ at the Harwell Science, Innovation and Business Campus in Oxfordshire, where ESA’s space applications centre, ECSAT, is also based.

The Sentinel-2 mission will provide ‘colour vision’ for Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring programme, with data being used to monitor plant health, changing lands, inland water bodies, the coastal environment and support disaster mapping.

Publishing Date: 24/03/2015
Geoss Portal (Image: ESA)

MYGEOSS, a project of the European Commission, has launched an open call for the development of mobile or web-based applications using open or crowd-generated data relevant to environmental or social issues. Developers (individuals or companies) can apply until 30 April 2015.

The European Commission details in a press release: "The pool of open data for use includes but is not limited to the Data Collection of Open Resources for Everyone (GEOSS Data-CORE) made available by the Group on Earth observation (GEO) through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), as well as open data from EU-funded projects."

The apps should focus on quantitative or qualitative information on the changing environment, such as climate change detection, biodiversity, water bodies, coastal areas, built environment, green areas, forestry, agricultural land and crops, and atmospheric composition.

... read more

Publishing Date: 24/03/2015
Corrected orbits in blue of the fifth and sixth Galileo satellites (Image: ESA)

The sixth Galileo satellite, part of the European navigation system, has now entered its corrected target orbit, after a successful recovery plan. It follows the fifth Galileo which had entered the orbit at the end of November 2014. 

Its corrected position is a mirror image of the fifth satellite’s, placing the pair on opposite sides of the planet. Significantly, the corrected orbit means they will overfly the same location on the ground every 20 days. This compares with a standard Galileo repeat pattern of every 10 days, helping to synchronise their ground tracks with the rest of the constellation.

The decision whether to use the two satellites for navigation and search-and-rescue purposes will be ultimately taken by the European Commission, as the system owner, based on the in-orbit test results and the system’s ability to provide navigation data from the improved orbits.

The next pair of satellites is due for launch on 27 March.

Publishing Date: 19/03/2015
Screenshot of SIGNALERT crowdmapping app (Image: Signalert SARL)

SIGNALERT is a free smartphone app that enables citizens to report, be aware and manage the experiences with natural or manmade disasters, climate change or pollution at global level. This version makes available the possibility of reporting new phenomena (cyclone, typhoon and hurricane), new advices on what to do during a cyclone and a better interaction with social networks.

A paid version of the app is also available, offering additional services like an emergency “I am Safe” button that sends an SMS to reassure the family and friends of the user while a dangerous situation, providing them the exact location. SIGNALERT is available in English and French and upgrades including a Spanish version and more types of reported phenomenon are being elaborated.

Through the app, users can access real time and structured information about physical effects, damages and impacts of natural phenomenon, among others, based on physical sensors.  At the same time they offer services... read more

Publishing Date: 06/03/2015
Satellite image of Lake Balaton (Image: Viktor Tóth)

Satellite technology allows to assess the quality of water on Earth through the visualization of pollution levels otherwise invisible to the human eye, as a recent study shows.

An international team of researchers from the University of Leicester, the Hungarian Academy of Science and industrial partners, has used the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument hosted on the ENVISAT satellite to measure pollution levels in lakes. These methods were not available for lakes until now due to the complex optical environments defined by a mix of different natural substances in the water.

The research focuses on Lake Balaton in Hungary, a popular tourist area especially vulnerable to environmental and meteorological changes that could result in the build-up of algae. Professor Heiko Balzter, Director of the Leicester Centre for Landscape and Climate Research in the University of Leicester's Department of Geography and co-author of the study, highlighted the... read more

Publishing Date: 05/03/2015
Yvette storm in Southeast Europe and Balkans in 2014 (Image: NASA)

The European Commission has awarded a contract worth 12 million Euros to e-GEOS, to provide satellite maps for emergency management. The contract, identified as Copernicus Emergency Management Service – Rapid Mapping, will be active in the period 2015- 2019.

e-GEOS, a company established by Telespazio (80%) and the Italian Space Agency (20%), will lead an international consortium formed by the German subsidiary GAF, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Italian company Ithaca and the French partners Sirs and Sertit. Under the new contract, the consortium will prepare and make available to the European Commission, in a short time after the activation of the service by the authorized user, satellite maps of areas affected by a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis.

To facilitate the damage assessment and the assistance intervention management, the European Commission makes available satellite maps, free of charge, to all users operating in Europe in the field of... read more

Publishing Date: 04/03/2015
Sentinel-2 (Image: ESA/S. Corvaja)

The lead spacecraft built within the Europe's new Earth observation (EO) programme is ready to go into orbit. Sentinel-2a will track everything from the growth of megacities to the variable yields of the world's most important food crops through pictures of the planet's surface. The satellite's launch on a Vega rocket has been scheduled for 12 June 2015.

According to Volker Liebig, the European Space Agency's EO director, "Sentinel-2 is the workhorse of the system. It gives us the optical component. Optical imagery is the backbone for most applications in Earth observation."

The imaging instrument of the European version will be sensitive across 13 multispectral bands of light, allowing it to discern more information about the Earth's surface. It will also "carpet map" a strip of ground of 290 km and its colour images have a resolution of 10m.

The combination of Sentinel-... read more

Publishing Date: 03/03/2015
MERIS image of Denmark, on 1 June 2003.

In order to monitor and map the spatial extent of the flooding caused by two storms passing over Denmark the weekend of 9 to 11 January 2015, radar images from TerraSAR-X satellite were employed.

The analysis and mapping of the flooded area was conducted by Airbus Defence and Space on behalf of DHI GRAS, a worldwide provider of remote sensing and GIS services for hydrology, water quality, environmental assessment and land cover mapping.

The use of TerraSAR-X radar satellite images in Limfjorden in Northern Jutland (Denmark) enabled the acquisition of data independent of weather and light conditions and enhanced the accuracy of disaster management and response operations.

The great advantage of radar satellite imagery in case of natural hazards such as flooding and storms is the possibility to collect information during the maximum extent of the water level.


Publishing Date: 26/01/2015
Space debris in low Earth orbit

European satellite manufactures will meet in March to discuss redesigning low-orbit missions in order to combat the increasing problem of space debris.

The workshop has been an initiative of ESA's Clean Space Initiative. It will be a forum where European companies will have the opportunity to present their own technologies for debris mitigation, said ESA's representative Jessica Delaval.

A cleaner low-orbit will be particularly beneficial for Earth observation missions and some classes of communication satellite, not to mention manned spacecraft and the International Space Station.

More information about the workshop and how to attend can be found in the workshop's website.

Publishing Date: 23/01/2015
Sentinel-3A in the cleanroom at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France.

ESA has recently announced that its satellite Sentinel-3A is now fully formed, after 18 months of careful assembling.

The satellite is expected to be launched at the end of 2015. It will join in orbit Sentinel-1A, launched on April 2014, and Sentinel-2A, to be launched in spring 2015.

Sentinel-3A will play a key role in the world's largest environmental monitoring initiative, the Copernicus programme. It will measure different aspects of ocean waters, such as changes in the temperature and height of the sea surface.

In order to monitor Earth's oceans and land, the satellite has been equipped with a radar altimeter, an infrared radiometer and a wide-swath ocean and land imaging spectrometer.

The information that will be collected by the satellite will be used for multiple purposes, including ocean forecasting, maritime safety and for prediction of extreme events in coastal areas, such as storm surges and floods.

Publishing Date: 22/12/2014
UN-SPIDER's expert, Dr Shirish Ravan, addressed the use of Space-based info

The "Roundtable Meetings on Innovations in Technologies for Disaster Rescue Efforts amongst ASEM countries" took place on 4 and 5 December 2014 in New Delhi, India. ASEM is the Asia-Europe Meeting. Shirish Ravan of UN-SPIDER co-chaired a session on Technology Transfer: Joint ventures among ASEM Countries and presented the topic "Consideration for Effective Use of Space-based Information for Emergency Response".

The main objective of the meetings was to focus the attention of ASEM member countries on how technology innovations can be utilized to save lives and reduce effective response time by Governments. Participants also addressed how ASEM countries can contribute to capacity building both in Asia and Europe through the sharing of best practices. Another goal of the meetings was to facilitate partnership building among interested ASEM countries and their industry. This effort aims to build... read more

Publishing Date: 15/12/2014
Berlin from Sentinel-1A via laser

ESA has successfully linked up the Sentinel-1A and Alphasat satellites by laser. The satellites were linked up from a distance of almost 36 000 km between them.

The link will make it possible to deliver images of Earth just moments after they were captured. According to Magali Vaissiere, ESA's Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, the link is operated at 1.8 Gbit/s, with a design that could scale up to 7.2 Gbit/s in the future. She describes the link as "an optical fibre in the sky".

The link will make information collected by Sentinel-1A available at all times, not only when the satellite orbits over its ground stations in Europe, as was the case before the satellites were linked up.

Among other things, improved access to Earth observation data will be useful in response to disasters triggered by natural hazards. As Paolo Ferri, ESA’s Head of Mission Operations, stated, the success of this mission and a better availability of Earth... read more

Publishing Date: 05/12/2014
With Vecmap researchers will be able to map high-risk areas

A new method has been developed to assess the risk of potential epidemics with the help of satellites. It has been developed by a consortium led by Avia-GIS in Belgium and supported by ESA.

The Vecmap, as the method is called, is an all-encompassing software and services package, which includes a smartphone app for field studies with a time and location information system, all linked to an online database. It will be used to predict the distribution of species that are essential in assessing the risk of potential epidemics.

Satellite data is used in several ways. On the one hand, satellite observations are used to target areas that could be the most representative testing sites to assess the risk of epidemics, saving time and cost of fieldwork. On the other hand, after the results are collected online, the experts are able to map high-risk areas using a wide range of satellite images.

Several European institutions have already tested Vecmap for producing area-... read more

Publishing Date: 04/12/2014
Ocean currents from GOCE

Satellite data collected by ESA’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) have been used to create a more accurate gravity map of global ocean currents. Users can register and access the data through ESA's website for free.

The data collected by GOCE, which was operational from 2009 through 2013, were used to measure the gravitational fields of the Earth. The gravitational pull of these fields vary from place to place due to the uneven distribution of mass inside the planet. This has an important impact on the currents of the ocean. In this sense, data provided by GOCE will help scientists to better understand the speed and behaviour of the ocean currents.

The new ocean currents map will mean a great improvement for techniques trying to measure future climate behaviour. On the other hand, the gravity variations data may also be used for other purposes such as monitoring ice... read more

Publishing Date: 01/12/2014
EUMETSAT to provide space data and operational support to Copernicus programme

The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) will provide space data and operational support to Copernicus marine, atmosphere and climate change services. The agreement was signed between the European Union and EUMETSAT on 7 November 2014. Copernicus is a programme of the European Union to provide reliable, accurate and timely environmental information.

EUMETSAT will support the Copernicus space component and services. In doing so, it will use start using data of the Jason-3 and Sentinel-3 oceanographic missions on behalf of the European Union as of 2015. EUMETSAT further explained in a press release: "As of 2020, EUMETSAT will fly the Copernicus Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 instruments on its Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) and Metop-Second Generation (Metop-SG) satellites. Based on the unique synergy between these Copernicus and the EUMETSAT instruments flown on both families of spacecraft, EUMETSAT will deliver integrated data... read more

Publishing Date: 12/11/2014
Increasing Resilience through Earth Observation

The Increasing Resilience through Earth Observation (INCREO) project brings together earth observation data gathered through EU's Copernicus programme and makes it available for emergency services, civil protection and disaster management missions.

INCREO aims to address the mounting disasters affecting Europe - dam failure, storm surge and wave height, flood and landslide - by delivering space-based information in support of multi-hazard situations. The multilateral project includes ten partners' enterprises from seven countries and disposes of a total budget of EUR 3 million. Among participant organizations are Airbus and UNESCO Venice.

INCREO's prime goal is to create sustainable risk management strategies and to raise awareness on risk within the communities living in vulnerable areas. In this sense, the use of satellite imagery and mapping techniques will deliver accurate information on location and will allow mitigation strategies where disasters cannot be... read more

Publishing Date: 23/10/2014
The Concluding Meeting of the 22nd OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum

From 10 to 12 September, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held its Concluding Meeting of the 22nd OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum.

UN-SPIDER was invited to participate in the meeting to make a presentation on ICT solutions for disaster early-warning and disaster response, the role of space-based monitoring and warning systems, as well as on innovative approaches to data information management.

The Concluding Meeting was dedicated to the topic "Responding to environmental challenges with a view to promoting cooperation and security in the OSCE area". The meeting brought together delegations of the OSCE, high-ranking officers from international and regional organizations, as well as experts on disaster-risk reduction and emergency response.

The topic of response to environmental challenges had been introduced by the Swiss 2014 OSCE Chairmanship with the aim of identifying... read more

Publishing Date: 02/10/2014
Visualisation 3D Science Park Amsterdam by UrbanFlood

Three projects funded by the European Union aim to support faster and more accurate flood warnings. The researchers behind Imprints, WeSenseIt and UrbanFlood have developed unique forecasting and alert systems to warn communities of impending floods.

In a press release, the European Commission elaborates on the three projects:

"Flood management and prevention is at the heart of the Imprints project which has developed an early warning platform to cut responses to flash floods down to about two hours, and even less – potentially giving people more time to get out of harm’s way. The platform is based on better rainfall predictions, using meteorological models and weather radar networks. The... read more

Publishing Date: 01/09/2014
Sentinel 1-A images

ESA’s Sentinel-1A satellite ws launched on 3 April carrying an advanced radar instrument system able to generate images of the Earth’s surface regardless of weather or time of day. It reached operational orbit on 7 August 2014 and began generating “interferograms” mapping the topography of Italy and Norway.

Data collected by Sentinel-1A has been used to generate 3D models using a technique known as Synthetic aperture radar interferometry or InSAR which combines two or more satellite radar images taken of the same area. Products elaborated from this technique include digital elevation models and other products used to monitor surface deformations either natural or manmade.

“I’m delighted to see these first interferograms, demonstrating the excellent capabilities of Sentinel-1A’s radar instrument. They certainly show the satellite’s outstanding performance in synthetic aperture radar interferometry with its large 250 km-swath”, said Ramón Torres ESA’s Sentinel-1 Project... read more

Publishing Date: 29/08/2014
Galileo's constellation of navigation satellites

Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system will soon increase: European Space Agency (ESA) announced the coming launch of Galileo SATs 5-6 on 21 August 2014, from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

These two satellites, becoming operative in autumn, will join the four satellites already orbiting: two were launched in October 2011 and two one year later.

ESA and its partner, France's "Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales" (CNES), submitted the satellites to multiple end-to-end system compatibility tests, while the Launch and Early Operations Phase is run from ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Galileo SATs 7-8 are scheduled for the end of 2014, after which the program anticipate launching between 6 to 8 satellites per year.

Publishing Date: 18/08/2014
Sentinel-5 Precursor

On 27 May 2014 Europe’s Copernicus programme Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite passed an important milestone on its mission to monitor global air quality and provide data on trace gases and aerosols. The satellite platform built in the UK by Airbus Space and Defense was reported as ready for the installation of the ultraviolet to shortwave infrared imaging spectrometer. The Tropomi instrument was jointly developed by the Netherlands Space Office, Dutch Royal Meteorological Institute and other Dutch institutes.

“The Airbus platform and Tropomi instrument will join each other early next year and undergo an eight-month testing program.” said Kevin McMullan, ESA’s Project Manager.

Sentinel-5P is scheduled for launch in 2016 and will join the Sentinel Satellite constellation designed for Europe’s Copernicus initiative to be the world’s largest environmental observation system in operation.  

This satellite will be the forerunner for the Sentinel-5 instrument to be sent... read more

Publishing Date: 29/05/2014
Second Generation meteorological satellites are planned to launch in 2021

The first documents for Europe’s MetOp Second Generation (MetOp SG) weather satellite mission were signed on 20 May 2014 by representatives from ESA and Airbus Defence and Space at the Berlin Air Show.

MetOp SG will comprise three pairs of satellites and will be launches starting 2021. They will follow a first generation of MetOp satellites: The first MetOp satellite, MetOp-A, was launched in 2006, followed by MetOp-B in 2012. MetOp-C will be added in 2018 to guarantee the continuous delivery of readings for medium- and long-term weather forecasting and for climate monitoring until the launch of the MetOp-SG satellites.

ESA explains on their website: "As with the first generation, MetOp-SG will deliver crucial information on atmospheric temperature and water profiles, cloud detection and analysis, and sea-surface temperature and winds, extending to trace gases and air quality." MetOp-SG is a collaborative project between ESA and the European Organisation for the... read more

Publishing Date: 21/05/2014
Image of flooding in the Danube July 2010.

The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) is celebrating its two year anniversary after becoming fully operational in April 2012. Since its activation two years ago EMS has provided timely and accurate geospatial information for the management of disasters caused by natural hazards, man-made emergency situations and humanitarian crises. During its first two years EMS was activated 69 times in rush mode and 7 times in non rush mode and provided 810 maps to users and flood warnings via the early warning component of the EMS most notably during the Central European floods in June 2013 that affected Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Copernicus EMS also responds to activation from developing countries around the world in need of assistance in Disaster Management 

The Copernicus Emergency Management Service has been activated eight separate times during 2014 alone responding to floods in the UK, France, Slovenia and Croatia. Imaging has also been... read more

Publishing Date: 15/04/2014

ESA has successfully launched the first satellite for the Copernicus program – Sentinel 1. The 2.3 tonne satellite lifted off on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 21:02 GMT.

The Sentinel 1 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument will scan the Earth’s surface in all weather conditions day and night. It will be used mainly for environmental monitoring in Europe, Canada and the polar regions. The maritime monitoring applications include ice and ship monitoring, as well as support for oil pollution detection and tracking. The satellite sensors will also be able to determine the direction, length and height of waves.  In monitoring the land surface of the planet the satellite will be used to support forest management and deforestation monitoring. Satellite data and images will also be used to create agricultural maps to monitor production and productivity. This feature is especially important for efforts in areas with food security problems.... read more

Publishing Date: 04/04/2014


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