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ESA announces new Earth Observer

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) has given the go ahead to its new generation of Earth Observation (EO) satellites as part of Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme.

Dubbed Sentinel-1, the satellite will be the first of five Earth observation satellites to monitor changes in the Earth’s oceans, land, weather and climate.

Mr Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said Sentinel-1 will eventually benefit ‘environmental monitoring, sustainable development and resource management’.

GMES is the next logical step in the development of operational services under the European Commission to provide Europe with the environmental data to support political decisions as a global player, with particular emphasis on the issue of climate change,’ he added.

Sentinel-1 missions will focus on continuing the existing services exploiting EO data and satisfying user requirements derived from GMES applications.

The satellite is expected to be launched in 2011 and will be equipped with a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system, used to generate detailed radar images. By using radar, the satellite will have the capacity to make images at any time of the day or night, regardless of the Sun’s illumination.

The Sentinel-1 spacecraft is expected to weigh around 2,200 kilogrammes at launch and image the Earth in swathes of 250 kilometres in diameter with a ground resolution of five metres.

Sentinel-2 and 3 satellites, scheduled for launch in 2012, will support land and ocean monitoring, while Sentinel-4 and 5 will be dedicated to meteorology and climatology through atmospheric chemistry.

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