ESA prepares a new mission to study the Earth’s climate

Madrid, (EFE) .-

A team from the Institute of Space Sciences of the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research will join the “HydroGNSS” mission of the European Space Agency, which will put a new satellite into orbit to measure hydrological variables that are essential on Earth.

This is ESA’s second “Scout” mission, and the new project has a global budget of 30 million euros (more than 35 million dollars) and an execution period of three years, which includes development , the launching and putting into orbit of the satellite, the CSIC reported today.

The data provided by this satellite will help to understand and predict the effects of climate change on the planet, and the project is part of ESA’s FutureEO Earth Observation Program, which aims to demonstrate the ability of small satellites to perform science.

The “HydroGNSS” will be in charge of measuring key hydrological climatic variables, such as soil moisture, the frozen state of permafrost (the permanently frozen surface of the planet), floods and wetlands, as well as above-ground biomass.

The data will complement those obtained by the first Scout mission, which focused on understanding and quantifying the processes of the upper atmosphere over the Tropics.

“These variables help scientists to understand climate change and contribute to the elaboration of meteorological models, ecological mapping, agricultural planning and floods,” said Estel Cardellach, ICE-CSIC researcher and member of the consortium.

The satellite measures the signal reflected off the land, ice and ocean from other existing missions such as Galileo and GPS and, although these signals are weak, they can be picked up by a low-power receiver built into a small Earth-orbiting satellite.

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The aim of ESA’s “Scout” missions is to demonstrate that small satellites with a budget of less than 30 million euros (about 35 million dollars) in a three-year plan can play an important role in observing the Earth and its extension to future missions.

The “HydroGNSS”, according to the CSIC, also opens the way to a future affordable satellite constellation that can perform measurements with a space-time resolution that traditional remote sensing satellites cannot access, since it offers the ability to monitor phenomena very dynamic and helps fill the gaps in monitoring Earth’s vital signs.

The project is led by the British company Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, and the mission involves, in addition to ICE-CSIC, scientists from the University of Rome La Sapienza, the University of Rome Tor Vergata and the Institute of Applied Physics (IFAC) of the National Research Council (CNR) in Italy; the Finnish Meteorological Institute (IMF); and the University of Nottingham and the National Oceanography Center (NOC) in the UK.

Source: EFE

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