Airbus Defence and Space

Looking to space in the face of ecological challenges

Satellite missions have steadily become an essential part of the machinery set in motion to better understand our ecosystem and the changes it is undergoing. It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of our planet lies in space.

Ultimately, it was a let-down. The Copenhagen International Climate Change Conference of December 2009 failed to deliver the solutions environmentalists were hoping for and concluded without any real international agreement concerning climate change. “Space was notably absent from the Copenhagen summit discussions,” says a regretful François Auque, Airbus Defence and Space’s Chief Executive Officer. Yet satellites play an essential part in diagnosing the ailments of our planet.

Five SPOT satellites designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space have been launched since 1986, two of which are currently active, tirelessly scrutinising the surface of the globe. Over a quarter of a century, an unrivalled bank of images has thus been built up that now enables us to track the evolution of sensitive regions or assess the damage inflicted by extreme weather. Through its subsidiaries Infoterra and Spot Image Airbus Defence and Space can therefore provide the decision-makers with sustainable solutions for enhancing our security, protecting the environment and monitoring our natural resources.

The Earth Explorer satellite GOCE was developed by Airbus Defence and Space in partnership with Thales Alenia Space and has been examining the surface and interior structure of our planet since March 2009. It enables more reliable predictions of seismic activity and volcanic eruptions. It also calculates the level of the oceans to the nearest centimetre and monitors the changing ice sheets, thereby helping to forecast climate evolution.

CryoSat-2, due to be launched in the spring of 2010, will also be concentrating on the polar ice caps and their behaviour in response to the Earth’s changing climate. The mini-satellite SMOS, launched in November 2009, is studying ground moisture levels and the salinity of the oceans, with the same objective of providing an increased understanding of the Earth’s environment and how it is changing.

Satellite missions have steadily become an essential part of the machinery set in motion to better understand our ecosystem and the changes it is undergoing. It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of our planet lies in Space.

 

EnvironmentSatelliteCryoSatSPOTInfoterra