ESA's Candidate Earth Explorer SAR Mission Concepts
Klaus Scipal(1), Malcolm Davidson(1), Michael Kern(1), Alan Thompson(1), Florence Hélière(1) and Chung-Chi Lin(1)
(1) European Space Agency, Keplerlaan 1, 2200 AG Noordwijk, Netherlands
The European Space Agency released a call for ideas for the next Earth Explorer Core Mission in March 2005. Twenty-four proposals were received and carefully reviewed on scientific and technical aspects. Six proposals have been selected for further study during Phase 0. These technical and scientific studies are the basis for a further down-selection of up to three missions to proceed in the feasibility Phase A. In January 2009, after a User Consultation Meeting, ESA’s Earth Science Advisory Committee will advise the Director of Earth Observation Programs on the selection of missions to proceed to Phase A. Based on a proposal of the Director the Earth Observation Program Board is then expected to make a formal selection in February 2009. One candidate mission will finally be implemented as 7th Earth Explorer with a foreseen launch in 2016.
Two of the six proposed candidate missions – BIOMASS and CoreH2O – use SAR technology. BIOMASS is based on a P-band polarimetric SAR payload which will provide first observations of the global distribution of forest biomass at a resolution and accuracy compatible with the needs of international reporting on carbon stocks and terrestrial carbon models. CoReH2O uses a high resolution dual frequency SAR antenna system in Ku and X-Band to measure for the first time key snow and ice parameters necessary for understanding the exchange processes between the land-surface, atmosphere and ocean.
In this paper we describe the scientific background, the mission objectives, the observation requirements, the mission concept and the mission elements of the BIOMASS and CoReH2O missions.