ERS

Mission

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blue arrow Mission Overview

ERS

The ERS programme was composed of two missions, ERS-1 and ERS-2, which were launched into the same orbit in 1991 and 1995 respectively. The two spacecraft were designed as identical twins with one important difference – ERS-2 included an extra instrument (GOME) designed to monitor ozone levels in the atmosphere.

Due to the satellites’ shared orbit, a tandem mission was implemented following the launch of ERS-2, whereby ERS-2 passed the same point on the ground one day later than ERS-1.

The 'ERS tandem mission' doubled the number of measurement points for the radar altimeter and, more importantly laid the basis for an accurate, three-dimensional digital map of Earth's land surfaces, which for some of Earth's regions would have been impossible.

Following nine years of excellent service, over three times its planned lifetime, the ERS-1 mission ended on 10 March 2000 due to a failure in the on board attitude control system.
Since its launch on 17 July 1991 ERS-1 made 45,000 orbits, acquiring more than 1.5 million individual Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) scenes.

ESA's venerable ERS-2 satellite followed its predecessor’s example, greatly exceeding its three year life span with 16 years of successful operations. The satellite was safely taken out of service on 5 September 2011, due to low levels of remaining fuel. From when it was launched on 21 April 1995, ERS-2 made 85,000 orbits, travelling 3.5 billion km.

blue arrow Mission Objectives

ERS was the first ESA programme in Earth observation to provide microwave spectrum-based environmental monitoring. The missions’ range of instruments were capable of monitoring the land, oceans, and atmosphere, and more specifically sea ice, geology, forestry, wave phenomena bathymetry, meteorological events and many more scientific fields.

blue arrow Instruments

ERS-1 Instruments

ATSR
The Along-Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR-1) measured sea-surface temperatures and cloud-top temperatures.

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RA
The Radar Altimeter (RA) was a Ku-band (13.8 GHz) nadir-pointing active microwave sensor designed to measure the time return echoes from ocean and ice surfaces.
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WS
The Wind Scatterometer (WS) obtained information on wind speed and direction at the sea surface for incorporation into models, global statistics and climatological datasets.
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MWR
The Microwave Radiometer (MWR) measured the integrated atmospheric water vapour column and cloud liquid water content, as correction terms for the radar altimeter signal. find out more
SAR
The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) wave mode provided two-dimensional spectra of ocean surface waves.

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LRR ERS-1
The Laser Retro Reflector (LRR) was a passive device used as a reflector by ground-based SLR stations using high-power pulsed lasers.

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PRARE ERS-1
The Precise Range And Range-Rate Equipment (PRARE) was a compact, space-borne, two-way, two-frequency microwave satellite tracking system.
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ERS-2 Instruments

ATSR
The Along-Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR-2) consisted of an Infra-Red Radiometer (IRR) and a Microwave Sounder (MWS) for measuring sea-surface temperatures (SST) and cloud-top temperatures.
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RA
The Radar Altimeter (RA) was a Ku-band (13.8 GHz) nadir-pointing active microwave sensor designed to measure the time return echoes from ocean and ice surfaces.

find out more
WS
The Wind Scatterometer (WS) obtained information on wind speed and direction at the sea surface for incorporation into models, global statistics and climatological datasets.

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GOME
The Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) was a nadir-scanning ultraviolet and visible spectrometer for global monitoring of atmospheric ozone.

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MWR
The Microwave Radiometer (MWR) measured the integrated atmospheric water vapour column and cloud liquid water content, as correction terms for the radar altimeter signal.

find out more
SAR
The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) wave mode provided two-dimensional spectra of ocean surface waves.


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LRR ERS-2
The Laser Retro Reflector (LRR) was a passive device used as a reflector by ground-based SLR stations using high-power pulsed lasers.
find out more
PRARE ERS-2
The Precise Range And Range-Rate Equipment (PRARE) was a compact, space-borne, two-way, two-frequency microwave satellite tracking system.
find out more


 

blue arrow Data

blue arrow DATA DOWNLOAD

Download data from the ERS missions through the ESA Online Dissemination System. The data is freely available to registered users.

blue arrow DATA DESCRIPTION

Learn more about the ERS products in the following product descriptions:

blue arrow DATA TOOLS

A number of tools are available for visualising, processing and analysing ERS data.

Atmospheric Toolbox

The Atmospheric Toolbox (also known as BEAT) is a collection of executable tools and an application programming interface (API) which has been developed to facilitate the utilisation, viewing and processing of ESA GOMOS, MIPAS, SCIAMACHY and GOME data.


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BRAT

The Broadview Radar Altimetry Tutorial and Toolbox is an online tutorial containing an extensive explanation on what is altimetry, the techniques used and examples of usage of altimetry data in several different fields of research.


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Sentinel-1 Toolbox

The Sentinel-1 Toolbox consists of a collection of processing tools, data product readers and writers and a display and analysis application to support the large archive of data from ESA SAR missions including ERS and Envisat, as well as Third Party SAR data from ALOS, TerraSAR-X, COSMO-SkyMed and RADARSAT-2.

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Sentinel-3 Toolbox

The Sentinel-3 Toolbox consists of a rich set of visualisation, analysis and processing tools for the exploitation of data from the Sentinel-3 mission. As a multi-mission remote sensing toolbox, it also supports the ESA missions Envisat, ERS, SMOS as well as Third Party data from Aqua and Terra, Landsat, ALOS and others.

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Sentinel Application Platform

The Sentinel Application Platform (SNAP) is a common architecture for all Sentinel Toolboxes. It is ideal for Earth Observation processing and analysis due to technological innovations.





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HEDAVI

The HEDAVI (HEritage DAta Visualisation) service enables users to discover a wealth of heritage data from ESA's ERS and Envisat missions, as well as from Landsat-5 and Landsat-7, two important heritage Third Party missions at ESA, through ESA's heritage data programme ‘LTDP'.


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blue arrow DATA QUALITY

Quality Control is monitoring routinely the status of the spacecraft (payload and platform) and to check if the derived products meet the quality requirements along mission lifetime. Quality Control reports are available for the following instruments

ERS-1

ERS-2