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Joint campaign prepares for Sentinel-2 and FLEX

Initial results from an ESA field campaign carried out in support of the development of two Earth-observation missions prove encouraging and potentially pave the way for future monitoring of the Earth’s surface.

Within a multi-objective campaign, field data is being gathered in three separate periods this year from sites across France and Spain. The campaign is in support of preparation for the Sentinel-2 mission, being developed by ESA as part of the space segment for the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) programme, and the FLEX mission, which was selected in 2006 for assessment as the result of ESA’s Call for Core Earth Explorer Mission Ideas.

Sentinel-2 is a multi-spectral imaging mission for high-resolution observation of land surfaces and will provide an enhanced continuity of the French SPOT (Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre) missions and the US Landsat missions. As part of GMES, Sentinel-2 will provide information for land monitoring and emergency services.

The main aim of the FLEX mission concept is to quantify the photosynthetic efficiency of terrestrial ecosystems at a global scale through the measurement of chlorophyll-fluorescence. Chlorophyll-fluorescence radiation is emitted from vegetation in the visible and infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum and provides unique information about the photosynthetic activity of plants. Photosynthetic efficiency estimates will lead to a better knowledge of the role vegetation plays in the carbon and water cycles, and ultimately contribute to an improved understanding of climate.

So far the campaign is proving very successful. Scientists are looking forward to the third part of the campaign in September, after which the results can be fully analyzed. These results will further the development of the Sentinel-2 mission and the assessment studies for the candidate FLEX mission.

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