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A stroll through Heritage Missions

04 Mar 2021

At ESA's Earth Observation centre—ESRIN—in Frascati, Italy, there is a place where one can walk back in time, to better understand the history and importance of Heritage Missions and their data.

Knowing and preserving the past is key to understanding the present and thus shaping the future. The Heritage Space Programme (LTDP+) provides data and information that go back some 40 years, making them comprehensible and accessible to all.

At ESRIN, a team of experts is dedicated to preserve and continuously improve these data to build long time data series and fundamental data records of our Planet. In the current digital era, this confirms ESA’s commitment to maintain heritage data and keep information available, in support of environmentally and socially responsible practices.

These archives of data are crucial for many applications, like climate change monitoring and are accessible and exploitable by users through a dedicated ESA Programme.

Located on the ground-floor of Building 11, in a highly secured area near the Phi-Experience, the Heritage Missions Walk-through allows visitors to view how this all started, from evolution to the grand process entailed in data preservation and accessibility, clearly showing the importance of ESA's heritage data and their progress.

Heritage walkthrough
The Heritage Missions Walk-Through, ESA

Created in 2017, the Walk-Through features a tour that starts with an introduction on the value of Heritage data, proceeding through three different areas of visualisation—with graphical panels and videos; heritage equipment for data acquisition and dissemination; and an archive in a climate controlled room.

It covers the history of technology used to acquire, archive and disseminate data from satellites dating back from the 1970s through to the present, with examples of the equipment used.

Heritage hardware
Hardware of Heritage data

This Walk-Through allows visitors to take a step back in time, helping us to better understand where we were and where we are going, with Earth Observation.

Mirko Albani, Heritage Space Programme Manager, states, "The idea to build up the Heritage Missions Walk-through came some years ago when we had to dispose of old equipment from different ESA sites. We decided to use it to create a path describing and crediting the work done by Earth observation pioneers at ESRIN, to keep this memory, together with the wealth of heritage data of our Earth, for future generations".