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Program ESA - The living planet

Program ESA - The living planet

Článek je pouze anglicky


ESA has been dedicated to observing the Earth from space ever since the launch of its first meteorological mission Meteosat back in 1977. Following the success of this first mission, the subsequent series of Meteosat satellites, ERS-1, ERS-2 and Envisat have been providing us with a wealth of invaluable data about the Earth, its climate and changing environment.

It is crucial, however, that we continue to learn more about our planet if we are to further understand the Earth system and its processes, enabling us to predict the effects a changing climate may bring. As our quest for knowledge continues to grow, so does our demand for accurate satellite data to be used for numerous practical applications related to protecting and securing the environment.  
As a result, ESA's Living Planet Programme is comprised of two main components: a science and research element, which includes the Earth Explorer missions, and the Earth Watch element designed to facilitate the delivery of Earth Observation data for the eventual use in operational services. Earth Watch includes the well-established meteorological missions with the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and also new missions focusing on the environment and civil security under GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) a joint initiative between the European Commission and ESA.
Earth Explorers

As part of the Living Planet Programme, the Earth Explorer missions encompass a new strategy for observing the Earth from space where missions are designed to address critical and specific issues that have been raised by the science community whilst demonstrating breakthrough technology in observing techniques. By involving the science community right from the beginning in the definition of new missions and introducing a peer-reviewed selection process, it is ensured that a resulting mission is developed efficiently and provides the exact data required by the user. This approach also gives Europe an excellent opportunity for international cooperation, both within the wide scientific domain and also in the technological development of new missions.
The family of Earth Explorer missions is a result of this strategy. Currently there are six missions in this category and a further six undergoing assessment study:

  • GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer)
    Due for launch in spring 2008, GOCE will provide the data set required to accurately determine global and regional models of the Earth's gravity field and geoid. It will advance research in areas of ocean circulation, physics of the Earth's interior, geodesy and surveying, and sea-level change.

  • SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity)
    Due for launch in early 2008, SMOS will provide global maps of soil moisture and ocean salinity to further our understanding of the Earth's water cycle and contribute to climate, weather and extreme-event forecasting.

  • ADM-Aeolus(Atmospheric Dynamics Mission)
    Due for launch in 2009, ADM-Aeolus will make novel advances in global wind-profile observation and will provide much-needed information to improve weather forecasting. ADM-Aeolus is seen as a mission that will pave the way for future operational meteorological satellites dedicated to measuring the Earth's wind fields.

  • CryoSat-2
    Due for launch in 2009, CryoSat-2 will determine variations in the thickness of the Earth's continental ice sheets and marine ice cover to further our understanding of the relationship between ice and global warming. CryoSat-2 replaces CryoSat, which was lost at launch in 2005.

  • Swarm
    Due for launch in 2010, Swarm is a constellation of three satellites to study the dynamics of the magnetic field to gain new insights into the Earth system by improving our understanding of the Earth's interior and climate.

  • EarthCARE (Earth Clouds Aerosols and Radiation Explorer)
    Due for launch 2013, EarthCARE is a joint European-Japanese mission that aims to improve the representation and understanding of the Earth's radiative balance in climate and numerical weather forecast models.

  • Future Earth Explorers
    On 15 March 2005, ESA released the latest opportunity for scientists from ESA Member States and Canada to submit proposals for ideas to be assessed for the next in the series of Earth Explorer missions. As a result, 24 proposals were evaluated and in May 2006 a shortlist of six were selected for assessment study.

GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security)

Through a new element of its Living Planet Programme, ESA will commit to facilitate the provision and use of information for GMES. This is a joint endeavour led by the European Commission and ESA to support Europe's goal regarding sustainable development and global governance, in support of environmental and security policies. The aim is to facilitate the acquisition, and distribution of all useful data and information. As such, GMES represents a vital part of Europe's contribution to issues affecting the global environment.

GMES is a relatively new initiative and as first step ESA is supporting a suite of Earth Observation-based pre-cursor services. This five-year programme is known as the GMES Services Element (GSE). The GSE supports the work of a range of users, including operational agencies, policy makers within government agencies, non-governmental organisations, key international scientific bodies and the public at large. The aim is to provide services which, at this time, focus on land and vegetation cover, forest monitoring, the marine, coastal and polar environment, maritime security, risk management, food security, atmospheric monitoring and humanitarian aid.

ESA is currently conducting a suite of activities to define more precisely the space component of GMES. Amongst other things, these activities include studies into new families of satellites called Sentinels and addressing the issues of standardising and improving Ground Segment infrastructures. 
Meteorological missions:

The Living Planet Programme also includes the next generation of missions dedicated to meteorology: 

  • MTG (Meteosat Third Generation)
    The MTG will take the relay in 2015 from Meteosat 11, the last of a series of four satellites of the MSG (Meteosat Second Generation). This is a joint project between ESA and EUMETSAT that followed the success of the first generation Meteosat satellites. The first of four MSG satellites was launched in 2002, entering into service with EUMETSAT in early 2004 and now renamed Meteosat-8. The second MSG satellite, renamed Meteosat-9, was launched in December 2005.

  • Future Eumetsat Polar System
    Launched in October 2006, MetOp-A is Europe's first polar-orbiting satellite dedicated to operational meteorology. It represents the European contribution to a new co-operative venture with the United States providing data to monitor climate and improve weather forecasting. MetOp is a series of three satellites to be launched sequentially to deliver data until at least 2020 and forms the space segment of EUMETSAT's Polar System (EPS). Preparations have started for the next generation of this EUMETSAT Polar System, the so-called Post-EPS.

Data into services

Turning data into operational services requires that long-term relationships are developed between research institutes, service organisations and user communities. ESA's Data User Element (DUE) aims to raise awareness with respect to the applicability of Earth Observation in day-to-day operations. ESA's Earth Observation Market Development (EOMD) programme complements the DUE by providing the framework within which to organise end-to-end service chains capable of leveraging Earth Observation data into commercial tools.


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