Envisat objectives

California fire
California fires

The Envisat mission was an essential element in providing long-term continuous data sets that are crucial for addressing environmental and climatological issues. It also further promoted the gradual transfer of applications of remote sensing data from experimental to preoperational and operational exploitation.

Envisat was an undertaking of ESA member states plus Canada, constituting a major contribution to the international effort of space agencies worldwide to provide the data and information required to improve the understanding, modeling, and prediction of environmental and climatic changes.

The mission included both global and regional mission objectives with continuous and coherent global data sets needed by the scientific and application community in order to understand better climatic processes and to improve climate models.

Some global applications required near real time data delivery (from a few hours to one day from sensing). Specific examples include:

  • forecasting of the sea state conditions at various scales
  • monitoring of sea surface temperature
  • monitoring of some atmospheric species (e.g., ozone for warning purposes)
  • monitoring of some atmospheric variables (e.g., temperature, pressure, and water vapour, cloud top height, earth radiation budget, etc.)
  • monitoring of ocean colour for supporting fisheries and pollution monitoring (complementing the regional mission)

Some of the global objectives required products available in off-line mode (days to weeks from sensing). Specific examples include quantitative monitoring of:

  • radiate processes
  • ocean-atmosphere heat and momentum exchange
  • interaction between atmosphere and land or ice surfaces
  • composition of the atmosphere and associated chemical processes
  • ocean dynamics and variability
  • ice sheet characteristics and sea ice distribution and dynamics
  • large-scale vegetation processes in correlation with surface energy and water distribution
  • primary productivity of oceans
  • natural and man-made pollution over the oceans
  • support to large international programmes (GCOS, IGBP, etc.)
Zambezi river
Zambezi River, Zambia

Continuous and coherent regional data sets were needed by the scientific and application user community for a variety of objectives such as:

  • sea ice off-shore applications
  • snow and ice detection and mapping
  • coastal processes and pollution monitoring
  • ship traffic monitoring
  • agricultural and forest monitoring
  • soil moisture monitoring and large-scale vegetation processes
  • geological features and mineral resources
  • application linked to SAR interferometry (DEM generation, hazard monitoring, etc.)
  • hydrological research and applications
  • support to fisheries in coastal waters

Some of the regional objectives (e.g., sea ice applications, marine pollution, maritime traffic, hazard monitoring, etc.) required near real time data products (within a few hours from sensing) generated according to user requests. Some other of these objectives (e.g., agriculture, soil moisture, etc.) required fast turnaround data services (a few days). The remainder would be satisfied with off-line (few weeks) data delivery.


 

Instrument applications

Cloud cover
Cloud cover

Each of Envisat's instruments supported different applications.

Learn more about the applications of each Envisat instrument:


 

The tables detail the contributions each instrument made to the mission objectives.

x = principal contribution
(x) = secondary or experimental contribution

Atmosphere
  ASAR GOMOS RA-2 MERIS MIPAS MWR LRR SCIAMACHY AATSR DORIS
Clouds       x x     x x  
Water Vapour   x   x x x     x  
Radiation Budget   (x)   x (x) x   (x) x  
Temperature / Pressure   x   x x     x    
Trace Gases   x     x     x    
Aerosols   x   x x     x x  
Turbulence   x                

 

Land
  ASAR GOMOS RA-2 MERIS MIPAS MWR LRR SCIAMACHY AATSR DORIS
Surface Temperature           (x)     (x)  
Vegetation Characteristics x     x         x  
Agriculture and Forestry x     (x)         (x)  
Surface Elevation x   x        x    x x
Geology and Topography x   (x)           x  
Hydrology Parameters    x   (x) x   (x)     x  
Flooding x                  
Fire                 x  

 

Ocean
  ASAR GOMOS RA-2 MERIS MIPAS MWR LRR SCIAMACHY AATSR DORIS
Ocean Colour       x            
Sea Surface Temperature                 x  
Surface Topography     x       x     x
Turbidity       x            
Wave Characteristics x   x              
Near Surface Wind x   x              
Current Features x   x              
Marine Geoid     x              
Global Circulation     x           x  
Ocean Fronts x     x         (x)  
Coastal Dynamics x     x            
Oil Spill x                  
Natural Film x                  
Ship Traffic x                  

 

Ice
  ASAR GOMOS RA-2 MERIS MIPAS MWR LRR SCIAMACHY AATSR DORIS
Sea Ice Mapping            x   x x   (x)        
Sea Ice Motion x   x x            
Sea Ice Processes x                  
Ship Routing x                  
Temperature                 x  
Snow Cover x     x         x  
Topography x   x       x     x
Ice Sheet Dynamic x   x x   (x)