Airbus Defence and Space

Earth observation, day or night

Europe’s first radar Earth observation satellite, ERS-1, was in orbit from July 1991 until March 2000, exceeding its planned lifetime by more than three times. Its successor, ERS-2, was launched in 1995. It, too, has now exceeded its nominal lifetime but remains in excellent condition.

Airbus Defence and Space was the prime contractor for both missions and delivered the platform and a number of the main instruments, including an active microwave radar instrument (AMI) which combines a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and a scatterometer measuring wind speed and direction. Radar satellites, as opposed to those based on optical observation technologies, can image the Earth’s surface in all weathers, day or night.

ERS-1 and ERS-2 paved the way for new interferometry missions such as Envisat, launched in February 2002 and the on-going TerraSAR, MicroSAR and Theos programmes.

Earth ObservationEnvironmentERS