The European Space Agency has chosen “Harmony” for the tenth mission of the Earth explorer

The European Space Agency has selected Harmony to move to the next stage, Phase A, of development as the tenth Earth exploration mission. Harmony is envisioned as a mission with two orbiting satellites in formation with one of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites to address key scientific questions related to ocean, ice and land dynamics. Credit: ESA

After rigorous preparatory and practical activities, today ESA member states have officially selected Harmony for implementation as the tenth Earth exploration mission under the FutureEO programme. Thus, this unique concept of a satellite mission is now poised to become a reality to provide a wealth of new information about our oceans, ice, earthquakes and volcanoes – which will make significant contributions to climate research and risk monitoring.

Earth Explorers are central to the European Space Agency’s FutureEO programme, pioneering research missions that show how new observational technologies are leading to new scientific findings about our planet. As science and technology advance, it addresses questions that have a direct impact on it Climate change and societal issues such as availability of food, water, energy and resources, and public health.

The Earth is a highly dynamic system in which the transfer and exchange of energy and matter is regulated through many processes and feedback mechanisms. Solving these complex processes in order to better understand how the Earth functions as a system is a major challenge.

Thanks to Harmony, the image is set to become clearer.

By advancing science, Harmony in turn will also help address societal issues such as those enshrined in the Great Challenges of the Global Climate Research Program and a number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This is new sexy Expedition It will consist of two identical satellites orbiting the Earth in convoy with the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite. Each Harmony satellite will carry a receiver-only synthetic aperture radar and a thermal infrared multi-view device.

Combined with observations from Sentinel-1, Harmony will provide a wide range of unique, high-resolution observations of motion occurring at or near the Earth’s surface.

Harmony principal investigator Paco López-Dekker, from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, explained, “Harmony will, for example, be used to identify the processes that govern the exchange of momentum, heat and moisture between the ocean surface and these exchanges affect processes in the lower atmosphere. They lead to weather patterns and affect our climate.

“It will also be used to study the deformation and flow dynamics at the edges of the rapidly changing ice sheet in order to better understand sea level rise.

“In addition, Harmony will monitor the movement of mountain glaciers, which are essential to providing fresh water to hundreds of millions of people, so the importance of understanding how it is changing cannot be overstated.

“Harmony will be used to measure small shifts in the shape of the Earth’s surface such as those related to earthquakes and volcanic activity, thus contributing to risk monitoring.”

Over the past four years, the Harmony concept has undergone a rigorous feasibility check and pre-development process, culminating in the ESA’s Program Board for Earth Observation (PB-EO) accepting the European Space Agency’s proposal, also based on scientific advice and recommendation from the advisory Committee on Earth Observation (ACEO). ).

Rene Forsberg, Acting Chair of the European Space Agency’s Advisory Committee on Earth Observation, said: “ESA’s groundbreaking Earth Explorer research missions are fundamental to Europe’s position as a global leader in Earth observation. We are very pleased to see Harmony join this extraordinary group of missions. We are also sure that this will advance our understanding of the workings of our fragile planet.”

Simonetta Chile, Director of Earth Observation Programs at the European Space Agency, added, “Indeed, Earth explorers are central to FutureEO – a program that harnesses new ideas to develop and test groundbreaking satellite missions and concepts. innovative technologies. By nurturing new innovative ways to use Earth observation, FutureEO enables scientific excellence to thrive to meet the societal challenges of tomorrow.

“The new technologies and observational techniques demonstrated by Earth explorers are also key to the development of ‘operational’ missions, such as the Copernicus Sentinel missions in Europe, which provide systematic data for environmental services.

“In the case of Harmony, we envision that its technology will be critical to enhancing the capabilities of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 Next Generation mission.”

For Harmony, the next step will include fine-tuning the mission design and subsequent construction, with a goal of launching the satellites in 2029.


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