Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, the GMES programme and the Sentinel satellites

GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is a European Earth monitoring programme that utilises satellites and in-situ sensors. Its purpose is to develop and operate a complex Earth observation infrastructure, which will supply scientists and civil authorities with up-to-date information to enable them to better protect the environment, improve the management of humanitarian crises and safeguard our security.

As a partner to the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA), Airbus Defence and Space has a key role in the implementation of the GMES programme.

GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is a European Earth monitoring programme that utilises satellites and in-situ sensors. Its purpose is to develop and operate a complex Earth observation infrastructure, which will supply scientists and civil authorities with up-to-date information to enable them to better protect the environment, improve the management of humanitarian crises and safeguard our security.

The programme focuses on integrating and coordinating diverse activities at a European level, in the fields of Earth observation and land monitoring. This involves making more efficient use of existing satellite systems (GMES contributing missions) and the data they provide by setting up sustainable operational systems specifically designed to meet the requirements of the GMES missions (The Sentinel satellites) and coordinating the information given by in-situ sensors.

Once in orbit the Sentinel satellites will provide fast and reliable data to be used for the implementation of GMES services. They will complete the data already provided by the current Earth Observation missions (TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X and SPOT).

The Sentinel satellites

ESA is responsible for the procurement and operation of GMES space components. The agency is responsible for the development and implementation of the Sentinel satellite systems and the associated ground segment. The satellite missions involve the use of both radar-imaging and optical sensors.

Sentinel-1 is using radar-imaging.

It was designed to take the place of the existing ERS and Envisat satellites and thereby assure the continuity of radar-based Earth observation services. Sentinel-1 will supply data of significantly higher quality than its predecessor missions.

From their polar orbit at an altitude of 700 km, the Sentinel-1 satellites will transmit Earth observation data for at least seven years. The first satellite, Sentinel-1A, is scheduled for launch in 2013, to be followed in 2014 by the second satellite, Sentinel-1B. The C-band radar instrument for this mission, based on sophisticated synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology, will be developed and constructed by Airbus Defence and Space.

Sentinel-2 is the programme’s optical imaging mission, which likewise consists of two satellites. Airbus Defence and Space is the prime contractor for this mission. Sentinel-2 will generate optical images in the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, in a total of thirteen spectral bands with a spatial resolution of up to ten metres.

Data from Sentinel-2 will be used principally for monitoring natural disasters (flooding, forest fires, landslides), land use and urban land uptake, forestry management and humanitarian relief operations. Sentinel-2A, a satellite weighing 1.1 metric tonnes, is scheduled for launch in 2013, followed by Sentinel-2B in 2015. The two satellites will be placed in a polar orbit at an average altitude of 780 km above the Earth. Together, they will be capable of imaging the entire land surface of the planet in only five days.

Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary TESAT Spacecom in Backnang, Germany is also contributing to the Sentinel-2 mission. Its OCP (Optical Communication Payload) instrument, which will be carried on board the Sentinel-2 satellites, will transmit vast quantities of collected data over a high-speed laser link to a relay satellite. This new technology provides a ten-times-greater transmission capacity compared with conventional radio-frequency techniques. Laser communication will significantly increase the number of potential applications for satellite-based Earth observation services.

Sentinel-3 is dedicated to oceanography and the monitoring of vegetation. Its instruments will record parameters such as the topography of the oceans and seas, as well as the surface temperature and colour of the oceans, seas and landmasses, to a high degree of accuracy and reliability.

To perform these tasks, Sentinel-3 will be equipped with an advanced radar altimeter and a multiband optical imaging instrument. Airbus Defence and Space has been selected to supply a number of satellite subsystems and payloads for this mission.

The Sentinel-4 mission will be dedicated to services based on the chemical analysis of the atmosphere and the monitoring of air quality. Its main task is to measure concentrations of aerosols, trace gases and cloud cover in the lower troposphere. Airbus Defence and Space is the prime contractor for the development and construction of the two spectrometers for the Sentinel-4 mission.

 From its observation post in geostationary orbit, the two spectrometers will for the first time make it possible to continuously monitor the composition of the atmosphere and its impact on air quality throughout Europe, North Africa and the Sahel region. The aim is to provide an hourly updated measurement of air quality data. These two instruments, each weighing around 150 kilograms, are to be launched successively in 2019 and 2027 on board the Meteosat Third Generation MTG-S weather satellites, and should each operate for a period of eight years  

Geo-information services provided by the Sentinel satellites

The GEO-Information division of Airbus Defence and Space has been actively participating to the implementation of GMES services for a number of years and has built up core expertise in many key applications.

The division’s geo-information experts have contributed to the development and implementation of reliable, cost-efficient service concepts for use in connection with crisis management and environmental protection, land use monitoring and planning and water quality management.

The Airbus Defence and Space GEO-information division is currently responsible for coordinating the Geoland2 project, for the environment, the SAFER (Services and Applications for Emergency Response) project to coordinate emergency operations in response to natural and man-made disasters and to provide geo-information for security and crisis management and the G-MOSAIC project, which focuses on civil security issues.

Geoland2 is an initiative that aims at providing geo-information on the environment at a regional, European and international level.

In this frame, Sentinel-2 A and Sentinel-2 B will enable land use, land cover and forest evolution to be monitored at an unprecedented level of quality, accuracy and reliability.

The SAFER project, aims at strengthening Europe’s capacity to respond to emergency situations such as floods, fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides.

Airbus Defence and Space specialists are responsible for the operational coordination of this project.

 

EnvironmentSecurity