Clouds and Aerosols Profiling in support of ESA’s sentinel 4 and 5 missions


"Space for our climate"

Human activity during industrial era has perturbed the Earth's energy balance by altering the properties of the atmosphere and by modifying the biosphere. Perturbations of the energy balance of the Earth, considered as a thermodynamic system, would be expected to lead to significant changes of the climate.

In the past thirty years, substantial R&D efforts in the field of Earth observation have been made in Europe, through national or international programmes, with a view to the developing of infrastructure and applications.

The use of satellite and ground-based remote sensing to study atmospheric properties is revolutionizing our understanding of meteorological processes. Weather satellites view the earth from a global prospective that is unwatched by any other observing system. Simultaneously ground based remote sensing systems have source advantages too - for instance, it is impossible to measure from satellite, temperature profiles in the atmospheric boundary layer with sufficient accuracy. Ground-based remote sensing of the atmosphere have proven useful in a variety of geophysical applications, including meteorological observations and forecasting, communications, geodesy and long-baseline interferometry, satellite validation, climate, air-sea interaction, and fundamental molecular physics.

As any instrument has limitations, the most powerful tool in monitoring the atmosphere is a synergy of ground-based in situ and remote sensing, satellite remote sensing and airborne instruments. This approach is clearly the future of atmospheric science (GEOSS[1]), but could be also the future of weather modification, aviation safety, environmental watch and fast intervention in case of natural or technological hazards.

ESA's programmes for Earth monitoring

ESA's programmes are designed to probe into the unknown, revealing more of the hidden knowledge about the Earth, its immediate space environment, the Solar System and the Universe itself, all the while aiding the design and development of satellite-based technologies and services.

ESA's Living Planet Programme comprises on one hand of a science and research element, including the Earth Explorer missions, and on the other hand the Earth Watch element, which is designed to facilitate the delivery of Earth observation data for further use in operational services.

Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. 

Sentinel 4 and 5

ESA is developing five families of Sentinel missions specifically for the GMES programme. The Sentinel missions will provide a unique set of observations for GMES, the first of these being the all-weather, day and night radar images from Sentinel-1 to be used for land and ocean monitoring services.

Sentinel 4 and 5 are designed as independent payloads that will be embedded within other satellite designs. Their missions are dedicated to monitoring the composition of the atmosphere for GMES Atmosphere Services. Both missions will be carried on meteorological satellites operated by Eumetsat.  Also, information on atmospheric variables will be provided in support of European policies. Services will include the monitoring of air quality, stratospheric ozone and solar radiation as part of climate monitoring.

[1] GEOSS – Global Earth Observation System of Systems