ESA Future Missions - Overview
ESA is developing a series of next-generation Earth observation missions, on behalf of the joint ESA/European Commission initiative Copernicus. The goal of the Sentinel program is to replace the current older Earth observation missions which have reached retirement such as the ERS mission or are currently nearing the end of their operational life span. This will ensure a continuity of data so that there are no gaps in ongoing studies.
Each mission will focus on a different aspect of Earth observation; Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Land monitoring, and the data will be of use in many applications.
Future ESA missions also include the Earth Explorers, which are part of the Living Planet Programme and focus on the study of the Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and the planet's interior.
Candidate Earth Explorers - One of these candidate Core missions will be chosen as ESA's next Earth Explorer after feasability studies are completed.
As part of the Living Planet Programme, Earth Watch furthermore aims at securing an independent sustainable capability in operational Earth Observation for Europe. This capability must satisfy requirements for operational services supporting both institutional needs and commercial initiatives.
ESA Missions in Development
Sentinel-4 is dedicated to air quality monitoring. The Sentinel-4 UVN instrument is a spectrometer carried aboard Meteosat Third Generation satellites, operated by EUMETSAT. The mission aims to provide continuous monitoring of the composition of the Earth's atmosphere at high temporal and spatial resolution and the data will be used to support monitoring and forecasting over Europe.
Sentinel-5 is dedicated to air quality monitoring. The Sentinel-5 UVNS instrument is a spectrometer carried aboard the MetOp Second Generation satellites. The mission aims to provide continuous monitoring of the composition of the Earth's atmosphere. It provides wide-swath, global coverage data to monitor air quality around the world.
Sentinel-6 carries a radar altimeter to provide high-precision and timely observations of the topography of the global ocean. This mission builds on heritage from the Jason series of ocean topography satellites and from ESA's CryoSat mission. Importantly, this new mission is designed to complement ocean information from Sentinel-3.
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