ESA selects Harmony as tenth Earth Explorer mission

ESA chose Harmony to move into the next phase, Phase A, of development as the tenth Earth Explorer mission. Harmony is envisioned as a mission with two satellites orbiting in formation with one of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites to answer key scientific questions related to ocean, ice and land dynamics. Credit: ESA

Following preparatory activities and a rigorous process, ESA Member States today officially selected Harmony for implementation as the tenth Earth Explorer mission under the FutureEO program. This unique satellite mission concept is therefore well on the way to becoming a reality to provide a wealth of new information about our oceans, ice, earthquakes and volcanoes, which will make a significant contribution to climate research and risk monitoring.

The backbone of ESA’s FutureEO programme, Earth Explorers are pioneering research missions that show how new observation techniques are leading to new scientific discoveries about our planet. Advancing science and technology, they address issues that have a direct bearing on climate change and societal issues such as the availability of food, water, energy, resources and health. public.

The Earth is a highly dynamic system where the transport and exchange of energy and matter are regulated by a multitude of processes and feedback mechanisms. Unraveling these complex processes to better understand how the Earth works as a system is a major challenge.

Thanks to Harmony, the picture should become much clearer.

By advancing science, Harmony will in turn help solve societal problems such as those set out in the Grand Challenges of the World Climate Research Program and a number of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This exciting new mission will include two identical satellites orbiting the Earth in convoy with a Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite. Each Harmony satellite will carry a receive-only synthetic aperture radar and a multi-view thermal infrared instrument.

Along with Sentinel-1 observations, Harmony will provide a wide range of unique high-resolution observations of motion occurring on or near the Earth’s surface.

Harmony lead researcher Paco López-Dekker from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands explained: “Harmony will, for example, be used to quantify the processes that govern the exchange of momentum, of heat and moisture between the surface of the ocean and the These exchanges influence processes in the lower atmosphere, determine weather patterns and affect our climate.

“It will also be used to study the deformation and flow dynamics at the edges of the rapidly changing ice sheet for a better understanding of sea level rise.

“In addition, Harmony will observe the movement of mountain glaciers, which are essential in providing fresh water to hundreds of millions of people, so the importance of understanding how they change cannot be overstated.

“And, Harmony will be used to measure small changes in the shape of the earth’s surface such as those related to earthquakes and volcanic activity, and therefore help in monitoring risks.”

Over the past four years, the Harmony concept has undergone a rigorous feasibility review and pre-development process, culminating in Council acceptance of the Earth Observation Program (PB -EO) of the ESA of the ESA proposal, also based on the scientific opinion and the recommendation of the Advisory Committee. Committee on Earth Observations (ACEO).

René Forsberg, Acting Chairman of ESA’s Earth Observation Advisory Board, said: “ESA’s pioneering Earth exploration research missions are fundamental to Europe’s position as the world leader in Earth observation. We are extremely happy to have Harmony join this extraordinary family of missions and are sure it will bring significant advances in our understanding of how our fragile planet works.”

Simonetta Cheli, Director of Earth Observation Programs at ESA, added: “Indeed, Earth explorers are at the heart of our FutureEO programme, a program that harnesses new ideas to develop missions and pioneering satellite concepts and to test innovative technologies.By fostering new and imaginative ways of using Earth Observation, FutureEO enables scientific excellence to flourish to meet the societal challenges of tomorrow.

“New technology and observation techniques proven by Earth explorers are also essential for developing ‘operational’ missions, such as Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel missions, which provide systematic data for environmental services.

“In the case of Harmony, we envision that its technology will be important in enhancing the capabilities of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 Next Generation mission.”

For Harmony, the next step will then be to refine the mission design and subsequent construction, in preparation for the launch of the satellites in 2029.

ESA moves forward with Harmony

Provided by the European Space Agency

Quote: ESA selects Harmony as tenth Earth Explorer mission (2022, September 23) retrieved September 24, 2022 from

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