New Earth Explorer mission to be selected
21 January 2013
This March marks an important milestone in the Earth observation calendar. Scientists from all over Europe will be gathering in Graz, Austria, to scrutinise three innovative satellite concepts. One will then be chosen as ESA's seventh Earth Explorer.
Using breakthrough technology, the series of Earth Explorer satellites is designed to advance science by exploring different aspects of Earth. Together, these missions are improving our understanding of the complex interactions between Earth's different components and how human activity is affecting natural processes.
With three missions already in orbit and another three on the road to launch, the next User Consultation Meeting will be held on 5-6 March. This meeting provides the opportunity for the scientific community to debate the merits of three new mission concepts - each of which promises to deliver novel information on how our planet works.
The philosophy of developing Earth Explorer missions centres on the involvement of the scientific community from the very beginning of a mission's life. Being proposed by the scientific community and realised through the user-driven selection process ensures that this series of state-of-the-art missions addresses the most urgent Earth science questions of our time.
The success of this approach is borne out by the advances that the GOCE gravity mission, the SMOS water mission and the CryoSat ice mission are already making to science. The Swarm magnetic field mission, to be launched this year, followed by the ADM-Aeolus and EarthCARE missions are set to improve our knowledge even further.