Announcements Archive


MetOp-C Launch Campaign Kicks Off

The MetOp-C launch campaign has kicked off with the first of three Antonovs landing at Cayenne Airport, French Guiana on 20 June.

MetOp-C arrives at Cayenne

The cargo aircraft transported 11 containers of equipment for ground support and IT-infrastructure, followed by the second, carrying the two main modules of the spacecraft a few days later. The third and final Antonov brought the solar array.

This is all in preparation for the launch of the third polar-orbiting satellite in the Meteorological Operational satellite programme. This programme was procured by ESA for Eumetsat, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.


ESA's wind Satellite Aeolus shows off

Before ESA’s Aeolus satellite is packed up and shipped to French Guiana for liftoff in August, media representatives had the chance to see this wind measuring Earth Explorer satellite standing proud in the cleanroom.

Like all of the Earth Explorers, Aeolus was built to show how cutting-edge space technology can shed new light on the intricate workings of our planet.

Aeolus on show

This pioneering satellite uses powerful laser technology that probes the lowermost 30 km of our atmosphere to yield vertical profiles of the wind as well as information on aerosols and clouds.


Decades of Satellite Monitoring Reveal Antarctic Ice Loss

New research review provides insights into the continent’s response to climate warming

Scientists from the University of Maryland, the University of Leeds and the University of California, San Diego, have reviewed decades of satellite measurements to reveal how and why Antarctica’s glaciers, ice shelves and sea ice are changing.

Southern Ocean Icebergs
Source: University of Maryland

Their report, published in a special Antarctica-focused issue of the journal Nature on June 14, 2018, explains how ice shelf thinning and collapse have triggered an increase in the continent’s contribution to sea level rise. The researchers also found that, although the total area of sea ice surrounding Antarctica has shown little overall change since the advent of satellite observations, mid-20th century ship-based observations suggest a longer-term decline.

“Antarctica is way too big to survey from the ground, and we can only truly understand the trends in its ice cover by looking at the continent from space,” said Andrew Shepherd, a professor of Earth observation at the University of Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment and the lead author of the review.

In West Antarctica, ice shelves are being eaten away by warm ocean water, and those in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas have thinned by as much as 18 percent since the early 1990s. At the Antarctic Peninsula, where air temperatures have risen sharply, ice shelves have collapsed as their surfaces have melted. Altogether, 34,000 square kilometers (more than 13,000 square miles) of ice shelf area has been lost since the 1950s.


Copernicus Sentinel-5P releases first data

 Following months of tests and careful evaluation, the first data on air pollutants from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite have been released. These first maps show a range of trace gases that affect air quality such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.

Air pollution movement

Launched on 13 October 2017, Sentinel-5P is the first Copernicus satellite dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere. It is part of the fleet of Sentinel missions that ESA develops for the European Union’s environmental monitoring Copernicus programme managed by the European Commission.

Philippe Brunet, Director of Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence at the European Commission, welcomed the release and accuracy of the new data, which has shone a light on air pollution on a global scale.


One year Adrift, but Not Far

In July 2017, a huge iceberg dramatically broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. But the aftermath has been a bit more drawn-out, as the berg hasn’t moved very far.

The left image shows Iceberg A-68 on July 30, 2017, soon after it broke away from the shelf and then fractured into two pieces known as A-68A and A-68B. The right image shows the same area on July 1, 2018. Both images are false-color, acquired with the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) on Landsat 8. Colors indicate the relative warmth or coolness of the landscape, from orange (warmest) to light blue and white (coldest).

In a year, iceberg A-68A moved a relatively short distance from the edge of the ice shelf into the Weddell Sea. In the right image, the berg’s western edge is roughly 45 kilometers from the shelf. A-68B, the much smaller fragment of the original berg, is more than twice that distance from its prior location.

Read on »


ESA publishes STEREO Success story (RESIST project)

The STEREO project  RESIST got featured in an article published on ESA's website.

It's a very interesting read, and explains how Sentinel data are being used in the project in orer to study volcanoes and landslides in Africa.

Be sure to check out the article here.


Terrascope Releases its First EO Browser

Terrascope, ESA's Belgian Collaborative Ground Segment for the dissemination of Sentinel data, has just undergone a pretty impressive update. Three major changes:

1. EO browser
Firstly, a state-of-the-art Terraviewer, enabling you to easily browse and view our data, currently enabled for Sentinel-2. This version gives you the possibility to view & download Sentinel-2 data over Belgian territory.
This data is available from mid-2015 onwards. In the viewer you can choose 6 pre-defined layers, color, infrared, NDVI, FAPAR, LAI and FCOVER. Each one having specific characteristics and use.

2. Sentinel-1
Secondly, Sentinel 1 data can now be downloaded directly from the data portal, in both single look complex (SLC) as well as ground-range detected (GRD) format.
The data is available from 2018 onwards. As it concerns SAR – radar – imagery, the data can be used regardless of clouds being present at the time of recording.

Sentinel 1 data is very useful for forest cover inventory to map deforestation, but also for land cover monitoring and classification, flood monitoring and detecting soil drought. In the upcoming releases the Terraviewer will also include the Sentinel 1 data.

3. User Support
And last but not least, a User Support section is in place to help users with any technical questions. By using the Forum, interaction with other experienced users will help solve specific issues with the data and an expert will always be available to solve your questions.

The FAQ section already contains answers to get you started using the data and platform. Along the way the FAQ will further expand depending on the input received from our users.


Be sure to check out Terrascope and all it has to offer right now.


Sentinel-3B Launch Opens New Era for Operational Oceanography

The successful launch on April 25th of the Copernicus Sentinel-3B satellite from Plesetsk, Russia, will establish the European backbone of a space-based, global ocean monitoring system at the service of operational oceanography.

The spacecraft will form a two-satellite constellation with Sentinel-3A, launched in February 2016, and thus complete the full deployment of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission to offer marine data users the global and frequent observations they need to monitor and forecast the ocean.

The dual-satellite Sentinel-3 mission is one of the six Sentinel missions deployed and exploited by ESA and EUMETSAT as the space component of the European Union’s flagship Copernicus Earth observation programme.


Under an agreement with the EU, EUMETSAT already performs flight operations of the Sentinel-3A satellite in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). EUMETSAT also extracts marine products from the observations of the three instrument suites, the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) and the Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter (SRAL) and distributes them in real time, while ESA is responsible for land observations and products. In addition, EUMETSAT exploits the Jason-3 high precision ocean altimeter mission in synergy with Sentinel-3A on behalf of the EU, in partnership with CNES, NOAA and NASA.

After contributing to the new satellite commissioning led by the European Space Agency (ESA), EUMETSAT will take over the control of Sentinel-3B, perform flight operations of the Sentinel-3 two-satellite configuration from its Darmstadt headquarters and deliver two Sentinel-3 marine data streams.

Read on »


Moon holds key to improving satellite views of Earth

Many Earth observation satellites make use of an added ingredient to ensure reliable, good quality environmental data: the Moon.

While the surface of the Earth is ever changing, the face of the Moon has stayed the same for millions of years, apart from occasional meteoroid impacts. This makes the light reflecting from the lunar surface an ideal calibration source for optical Earth-observing instruments. Now an ESA-led project has plans to make it more useful still.

Source: ESA Space Engineering & Technology

An instrument has been placed high on the slopes of Mount Teide in Tenerife, above the majority of clouds and airborne dust, designed to measure nightly variations in moonlight, to hone the accuracy of lunar calibration efforts in future.

“Space agencies across the globe use the Moon to assess and monitor the calibration of optical Earth observation instruments,” explains Marc Bouvet, overseeing the project for ESA. “These instruments are carefully calibrated before launch, but in space their performance can gradually drift, due to radiation or lens contamination for instance, or mechanical changes.

Read on »


CryoSat reveals retreat of Patagonian glaciers

While ESA’s CryoSat continues to provide clear insight into how much sea ice is being lost and how the Antarctic and Greenlandic ice sheets are changing, the mission has again surpassed its original scope by revealing exactly how mountain glaciers are also succumbing to change.

Glaciers all over the globe are retreating – and for the last 15 years, glacial ice has been the main cause of sea-level rise.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Apart from Antarctica, Patagonia is home to the biggest glaciers in the southern hemisphere, but some are retreating faster than anywhere else in the world.

This is because the weather is relatively warm and these glaciers typically terminate in fjords and lakes, exacerbating surface melting and causing them to flow faster and lose ice as icebergs at their margins.

Read on »


Safeguarding our Most Precious Resource: Water

According to this year’s Global Risk Report by the World Economic Forum, water crises are one of the five biggest risks to society. ESA is working with development banks to help water-resource authorities use information from satellites to manage this precious resource.

With water under pressure from over-exploitation and pollution, one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Dwindling waters (video)
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

While progress is being made, there are ever-increasing demands for freshwater, especially for agriculture. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization states that 70% of the freshwater drawn is used for agriculture alone. And, with a growing global population to feed, this could rise.

Read on »


Sentinel-3B Launch Preparations in Full Swing

With the Sentinel-3B satellite now at the Plesetsk launch site in Russia and liftoff set for 25 April, engineers are steaming ahead with the task of getting Europe’s next Copernicus satellite ready for its journey into orbit.

Unveiling Sentinel-3B
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

After arriving at the launch site on 18 March, the satellite has been taken out of its transport container and is being set up for testing.

Read on »


Sentinels helping to map minerals

The traditional way of mapping Earth’s geology and mineral resources is a costly and time-consuming undertaking. While satellites cannot entirely replace the expert in the field, they can certainly help – as a recent effort in Africa shows.

Examples of layers used for mapping
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Geological maps identify different types of rock, faults, groundwater and deposits. They are not only essential for building infrastructure and assessing risk, but also important for locating and mining natural resources.

Read on »


Earth's atmosphere: new results from the International Space Station

With ESA’s help, the latest atmosphere monitor on the International Space Station is delivering results on our planet’s ozone, aerosol and nitrogen trioxide levels. Installed last year on the orbital outpost, NASA’s sensor tracks the Sun and Moon to probe the constituents of our atmosphere.

Moonrise from space
Source: ESA Human Space Flight

The Station takes only 90 minutes for a complete circuit of our planet, experiencing 16 sunrises, 16 sunsets, and sometimes moonrises or moonsets, every day. By observing the Sun or Moon through the atmosphere, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment – SAGE – measures the quantity of ozone, aerosols and other gases.

Read on »


Accessing Copernicus Data Made Easier

Thanks to the European Union’s Copernicus programme, vast quantities of satellite data are freely available to manage the environment and benefit European citizens. While this offers a wealth of opportunities, downloading and storing these data involves some complex logistical challenges – but this is about to change.

With such a lot of data available, the European Commission is making efforts to make sure that the process of accessing these data and information is easier so that issues associated with downloading and storing can be avoided.

Brussels from Copernicus Sentinel-1
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

To this end, the European Commission launched the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS).

Following a tender and evaluation process, ESA, acting on behalf of the European Commission, has now signed DIAS contracts with four industrial consortia. DIAS will give unlimited, free and complete access to Copernicus data and information.

DIAS provides a scalable computing and storage environment for third parties. Third parties will be empowered to offer advanced value-adding services integrating Copernicus with their own data and tools to the benefit of their own users.

Read on »


Farewell to GOES-13: The History of NOAA’s Former GOES East Satellite

For more than seven years, NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite has been actively monitoring the skies over the Western Hemisphere, serving as a critical source of information during major U.S. weather events, from crippling snowstorms to powerful hurricanes. Here’s a look back at the satellite’s unique history and its most memorable imagery.

GOES-13 views Hurricane Gonzalo in the Caribbean and active weather across the western and central North Atlantic on October 14, 2014.
Source: NOAA

When GOES-13 was first launched aboard a Boeing Delta-IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in May 2006, the spacecraft joined a new generation of satellites known as the GOES-N,O,P series. These satellites were designed with a longer lifespan than their predecessors, and would carry enough fuel to operate for nearly 14 years.
With faster data processing, GOES-13 could pinpoint the location of severe storms and other weather phenomena with increased accuracy, allowing forecasters to provide timelier warnings to the public. The satellite’s imager and sounder sensors could take more precise vertical measurements of the Earth’s atmosphere, which enabled the satellite to track major weather events such as hurricanes and tropical cyclones in near-real time.

Read on »


From Alaska to Amazonia—first global maps of traits that drive vegetation growth

Detailed global maps of key traits in higher plants have been made available for the first time, thanks to work led by researchers from the University of Minnesota's (UMN) College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).


Based on measurements of 45,000 individual plants from 3,680 species, and using high-tech statistical mapping protocols, the team created global maps of plant traits including leaf nitrogen concentration, leaf phosphorus concentration, and specific leaf area (a measure of area displayed to intercept light per unit investment in leaf biomass). These maps, with more than 50,000 pixels, show surprisingly large local variation in trait values that could significantly impact future carbon cycle calculations produced by Earth System models (ESMs). The plant traits mapped in the study are critical for photosynthesis and foliar respiration and serve as input to the ESMs. Incorporating this local variability of plant traits in the ESMs will lead to more accurate modeling of carbon cycle feedbacks.

Read more »


EuroGEOSS explained in a beautiful infographic

During GEO's 14th Plenary Meeting, the European Commission officially launched the EuroGEOSS initiative. They explained how it fits in the international context of GEO and Copernicus, the European space programme on Earth observation.

Last week, the Commission also distributed a very interesting infographic elaborating on all the ins and outs of the EuroGEOSS initiative. Be sure to check out the document below!



Antarctica acquisitions by PROBA-V

As many of you showed interest in Antarctica, the Proba-V Team over at VITO decided to acquire PROBA-V images over this continent from November 2017 up to February 2018.

Source: VITO

These 1 km, 300 m and 100 m products will be processed up to L2A and provided in a polar stereographic projection. They will be made available via the regular portal as well as the PROBA-V Mission Exploitation Platform, from January 2018 onwards.


CleanSeaNet: Ten years protecting our seas

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of CleanSeaNet, one of its flagship services. Operational since 2007, CleanSeaNet is a satellite-based pan-European oil spill and vessel monitoring service which processes images coming from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites - such as the Copernicus Sentinel-1A/B satellites - to identify and trace oil pollution on the sea surface, to monitor accidental pollution during emergencies and to identify potential polluters in case of accidental or deliberate pollution.

Source: © MCA/Irish Coast Guard

The service aims at strengthening national operational response chains to accidental spills and deliberate discharges from ships. It provides information to national authorities in 34 coastal states in less than thirty minutes after the acquisition of the satellite imagery.

Read on »


TERRASCOPE Sentinel data now readily available for all Belgian users

The Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) has just launched TERRASCOPE, the Belgian entry point to the EU Copernicus Sentinel satellites data.

It takes advantage of existing infrastructure that Belgium built up for the SPOT-VEGETATION and PROBA-V missions. From now on TERRASCOPE will offer its users following products and services:

  • Sentinel imagery;
  • Information products derived from Sentinel imagery;
  • Computing power for third parties to use to generate their own information products.

TERRASCOPE aims to be a flexible and dynamic platform which should allow for new developments resulting from collaboration between Belgian partners in dialogue with BELSPO.

BELSPO is dedicated to encourage Belgian users to work with Sentinel data.

To better understand which products our Belgian users need and how to would like to see TERRASCOPE evolve, we invite each of you to complete the TERRASCOPE survey.



Space for Cities initiative - Eurisy Survey

Are you a local/regional administration, a private company or an NGO operating in cities?

Do you use satellite services to provide better services in cities?

You don’t use satellite services but would like to know more about them?

We need your feedback! Take 5 minutes to reply to the Eurisy survey and be part of the “Space for Cities initiative”! 

Space for cities brochure


Sentinel‑5P: Air quality-monitoring satellite in orbit

The first Copernicus mission dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere, Sentinel‑5P, has been launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

The 820 kg satellite was carried into orbit on a Rockot launcher at 09:27 GMT (11:27 CEST) on 13 October 2017.

The mission is one of six families of dedicated missions that make up the core of Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring network. Copernicus relies on the Sentinels and contributing missions to provide data for monitoring the environment and supporting civil security activities. Sentinel-5P carries the state-of-the-art Tropomi to do just that.

Developed jointly by ESA and the Netherlands Space Office, Tropomi will map a multitude of trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and aerosols – all of which affect the air we breathe and therefore our health, and our climate.

Sentinel-5P was developed to reduce data gaps between the Envisat satellite – in particular the Sciamachy instrument – and the launch of Sentinel-5, and to complement the GOME-2 sensor on the MetOp satellite.

“Having Sentinel-5P in orbit will give us daily and global views at our atmosphere with a precision we never had before,” said Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes.

“Our historic data records, together with the long-term perspective of the Copernicus satellite programme, opens the doors for generating datasets spanning decades – a prerequisite to understanding our ever-changing Earth. ”

In the future, both the geostationary Sentinel-4 and polar-orbiting Sentinel‑5 missions will monitor the composition of the atmosphere for Copernicus Atmosphere Services. Both missions will be carried on meteorological satellites operated by Eumetsat.

Until then, the Sentinel-5P mission will play a key role in monitoring and tracking air pollution.

Read more


Sentinel-2 cloudless mosaic: the first global (almost) cloud-free view of planet

Source: Copernicus Observer

About 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by clouds any given day. Imagery obtained by satellite sensors operating in the visible light range is constantly constrained by clouds blocking the view of the surface of the Earth and shadows obscuring or distorting features on the ground.
These shadows and clouds can often ruin the acquired satellite imagery in regards to requirements. So how can we get a global cloud-free view of the Earth through using Sentinel-2?

EOX IT Services, an Austrian Open Source solution provider for Earth Observation services, has implemented a methodical process crafting an almost cloudless Sentinel-2 map of the world, which has been viewed more than 450,000 times during the last two weeks on the company’s website.

This Sentinel-2 cloudless layer combines over 80 trillion pixels collected under various weather conditions between May 2016 and April 2017 (images of Northern hemisphere’s mosaics were taken between May and September 2016, while the Southern hemisphere images were taken between November 2016 and March 2017). The pixels were then merged into a sunny homogeneous mosaic, free of any cloud cover.

Read on »


NASA Looks Within Category 5 Hurricane Maria Before and After First Landfall

Satellite data is enabling forecasters to look inside and outside of powerful Hurricane Maria. A NASA animation of satellite imagery shows Hurricane Maria's first landfall on the island of Dominica. NASA's GPM satellite provided a 3-D look at the storms within that gave forecasters a clue to Maria strengthening into a Category 5 storm, and NASA's Aqua satellite gathered temperature data on the frigid cloud tops of the storm.

Source: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Read on »


Arctic sea ice once again shows considerable melting

This September, the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to roughly 4.7 million square kilometres, as was determined by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the University of Bremen and Universität Hamburg. Though slightly larger than last year, the minimum sea ice extent 2017 is average for the past ten years and far below the numbers from 1979 to 2006. The Northeast Passage was traversable for ships without the need for icebreakers.

Source: Alfred-Wegener-Institut

The sea ice in the Arctic is considered a critical element in climate processes, and a valuable early-warning system for global warming. Accordingly, the September minimum extent is an important indicator of climate change. Despite an especially warm winter, the current extent of sea ice does not represent a new record low; nevertheless, the amount of ice loss is massive. As sea-ice physicist Marcel Nicolaus from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) explains, “This year’s sea ice extent is again on a very low level: the observed September value of the past eleven years has consistently been lower than in any of the previous years.”

Read more »


Airbus to reshape Earth observation market with its Pléiades Neo constellation

The production of Airbus’ four new very high resolution satellites, which together will form the Pléiades Neo constellation, is well on schedule for launch in 2020. They will join the already world leading Airbus constellation of optical and radar satellites and will offer enhanced performance and the highest reactivity in the market thanks to their direct access to the data relay communication system, known as the SpaceDataHighway.

This first batch of four optical and very agile satellites will double the number of visits per day anywhere on Earth and offer a re-tasking rate which is five times higher than previous constellations. Each satellite will be adding half a million km² per day at 30cm resolution to Airbus’ offering. These images will be streamed into the OneAtlas on-line platform, allowing customers to have immediate data access, analytics and correlation with Airbus’ unique archive of optical and radar data.


Red Cross is looking for volunteers to map the floods in Asia

Right now, over 24 million people are already displaced due to massive floods in South East Asia. 1/3 of Bangladesh and Nepal is already flooded, and things are not looking like they will get better soon.

Floods and mudslides in the region have already made more than 700 victims. Houses have been destroyed, and whole villages are cut off from the outside world. Because of this, many people are left without any access to food, electricity, medical aid and clean water.

In order for organisations like the Red Cross to be able to help those in need, good maps of the region are of critical importance. Unfortunately much of that part of the world is scarcely mapped, if at all. The Red Cross is therefore reaching out to volunteers to help map Bangladesh and Nepal, starting from high resolution satellite images.

The area around Kathmandu, before and after volunteers jumped in, in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake

If you feel like helping, or want to know more about the offer, be sure to check out the dedicated website!


Greenland Peat Fires captured by STEREO researchers

A peat wildfire was first detected in western Greenland on July 31st, and has since been captured by MODIS, Landsat and Sentinel-2 sensors. At this moment the wildfire is still growing and has an extent of several kilometers.

Progressing wildfires in July - August 2017

Fire extent is also monitored using Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B images. All available images are used - from a few days before the start of the fires until now - and interferometric coherence of each available 6-Days InSAR pair is computed. These coherence images shows essentially the soil stability between the two observation dates. If an area burns between the two acquisitions, coherence is lost. While an already burnt area will reappear as stable again and show a high coherence.

Each of these 6-Days coherence layers are assembled in an animation showing the fire propagation and extent.

All the processing, from data reading to geo-projection was performed using the CSL InSAR Suite fully developed through a series of successive Belspo/STEREO-financed projects, the most recent of which are:

  • Close range aerial sensing of soils for improved remote sensing products (RAPAS)
  • MUlti Zone phase Unwrapping using advanced Split Band Interferometry (MUZUBI)
  • REmote Sensing ans In Situ detection and Tracking of geohazards (RESIST)


iCOR, atmospheric image correction made accessable

When you look at a satellite image, although you may not see it, every pixel in the image is subtly contaminated by the atmosphere. If you want to derive quantitative information or study evolutions through a series of satellite images, it is essential that the atmospheric disturbance is removed and the object surface reflectance is retrieved before any other analysis is made. iCOR does just that, and it is based on years of experience in the field at VITO Remote Sensing.

The atmospheric correction software, iCOR (previously known as OPERA), is now available to the broad user community through the ESA Sentinel Application Platform (SNAP) for the atmospheric correction of Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8  data.
By implementing iCOR in SNAP, researchers can test iCOR for their own study areas and experiment with the different functionalities the new tool has to offer. The iCOR SNAP plug-in can be freely downloaded.

Read all about this free software over on the VITO blog.


DigitalGlobe and MDA, two major players in the satellite data provider world, have decided to merge

On July 27th, DigitalGlobe Inc. announced that its shareowners overwhelmingly voted to approve the Company’s proposed merger with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (aka MDA), another major player in the satellite data business. MDA's shareholders likewise overwhelmingly voted to approve the issuance of MDA common shares to the holders of DigitalGlobe stock. The transaction is expected to close in or shortly after the third quarter of 2017.

The merger is no surprise if you have been following the press statements of both companies. They have been quietly collaborating on a next-generation Earth-observation constellation called WorldView Legion that MDA-subsidiary Space Systems Loral will build in Palo Alto, California.

Read on »


Greenland... Wildfire?

Greenland is usually associated with ice and snow, but the country has fallen victim to a large wildfire that has been raging since the end of July. The fire was imaged by the Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite on 8 August 2017. The satellite carries a multispectral high-resolution multispectral camera working in 13 wavelength bands. The animation uses different combinations of these bands to show the fire in natural colour, to highlight the flames and to show the burnt areas.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Greenland is almost entirely covered by a thick ice sheet, but there are exposed carbon-rich peatlands along the coast. The fire, which is in the western part of the country, appears to be a peatland fire. The fear is that the fire may have broken out because permafrost is melting, making the peat more susceptible to catching fire. Also, since it is peat, which can be used as a fuel, it could burn for some time.

Read on »


Blooms in the Caspian Sea

Given adequate sunlight and nutrients, phytoplankton populations can swell into blooms large enough to be visible from space. On August 3, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of several blooms in the Caspian Sea:

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Phytoplankton blooms are often harmless, and are an important food source for marine life. Other times, blooms can be harmful; they can deplete the water’s oxygen and suffocate marine life, and produce toxins that can be harmful to both aquatic creatures and humans.

Lake Urmia is visible west of the Caspian Sea. Microscopic organisms periodically turn the lake’s salty water striking shades of red and orange.

Read on »


Icebergs: Does Loss Lead to Instability?

Thanks to the satellite era, we recently witnessed the birth of one of the biggest icebergs on record. While the breakup of Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf hit the headlines around the world, this dramatic event also presents scientists with a unique opportunity to learn more about ice-sheet stability.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

On 12 July, Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission returned radar images showing that a lump of ice more than twice the size of Luxembourg had broken off the Antarctic Peninsula.

Since then, this large tabular iceberg – known as A68 – has drifted about 5 km from the ice shelf. Images from Sentinel-1 also show that a cluster of more than 11 smaller icebergs has now also formed, the largest of which is over 13 km long.

These ‘bergy bits’ have broken off both the giant iceberg and the remaining ice shelf.

Anna Hogg from the University of Leeds, UK, commented, “Our ability to routinely monitor rapidly unfolding events such as this has been revolutionised in the last few years by European investment in the Copernicus satellites.”

Read more »


Arianespace’s lightweight Vega orbits OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs on a milestone success

For the second time this year – and the 10th overall since entering service in 2012 – Vega has successfully launched a payload from the Spaceport, with this lightweight vehicle’s latest mission delivering the OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs Earth observation satellites to Sun-synchronous orbits.

The light-lift Vega ascends from the Spaceport's SLV launch complex with its OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs satellite passengers.
Source: Arianespace

Read more »


IGARSS will come in Brussels in 2021

As co-organizer, BELSPO STEREO team is very proud to announce that the organisation of IGARSS 2021 has been awarded to the Low Countries (Belgium and The Netherlands).

IGARSS (IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium) is one of the most important international meetings in the field of remote sensing attracting thousands of scientists all over the world.

The event will take place in Brussels on July 11-16 July 2021.

It's a great opportunity for our countries and our scientific communities.

The Local Organising Committee hopes that you will turn out en masse to present your work
to the international community and make it a fun event!


Full Pléiades coverages of Belgium now available for super cheap prices

You probably already know that the Belgian Pléiades Archive (or BPA in short) boasts an impressive number of Pléiades images with very high resolution, distributed all over the globe. All of these images can be downloaded free of charge if you become an authorised user.
Another perk of becoming an authorised user is the vastly reduced prices you pay for other Pléiades images (whether that be new acquisitions or images already acquired in the past which aren't in the BPA).

You probably also already knew about the 2013 full coverage of Belgium that was purchased by the Belgian federal and regional governments. All of these images are available in the BPA as well.

What you might not know yet, however, is that the full archive of Pléiades images is much, much larger. Airbus D&S, the provider of the data, has been collecting images since the launch of the first Pléiades satellite, and have gradually populated a vast archive that can be searched over on their Geostore website.

Airbus D&S have been dedicated to providing Belgian users with yearly coverages since the very start of this exciting adventure. Ever since the delivery of the 2013 coverage, they have collected nearly full coverages of Belgium in 2014 and 2015, and a full coverage of Belgium acquired over the course of 2016.

If you are an authorised user and you're interested in any of these coverages or any of the images in them, you can purchase them for bottom prices by passing through the BPA preorder page.

So be sure to check out the wonderful images in both the BPA (completely free of charge) and the Geostore (for very low prices)!


New release of 300 m global CCI Land Cover data - time series 1992-2015

In the framework of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) of the European Space Agency, the CCI Land Cover partnership is pleased to announce the official release of the CCI 300 m annual global land cover time series from 1992 to 2015.  This unique dataset was produced thanks to the reprocessing and the interpretation of 5 different satellite missions. The attached newsletter introduces the 24 global land cover maps and a set of additional products associated to them.  All these products can be visualized interactively (click right to get the surface seasonality for any pixel on Earth) and downloaded using the CCI Land Cover viewer.

On top of that, there's also a new version of the User Tool (v3.12) available for download.

Read all about the offer here.



Sentinel-2 captures coral bleaching of Great Barrier Reef

Scientists observed the bleaching of Australia's Great Barrier Reef early this year using satellite images. While capturing these events from space has been difficult in the past, Sentinel-2's frequent revisits and its resolution makes it possible.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The corals of the Great Barrier Reef have now suffered two bleaching events in successive years. Experts are very concerned about the capacity for reef survival under the increased frequency of these global warming-induced events.

Read more »


NASA’s CYGNSS Satellite Constellation Begins Public Data Release

On May 22, NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) began regular production of its science data products – measurements of ocean surface wind speed and roughness – with public release of these data facilitated by the NASA Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC). The production and distribution is timed to coincide with the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1.

Read on »


AUC Launchs the GMES & Africa Call for Proposals

The African Union Commission launches the Call for Proposals for the implementation of the Global Monitoring for environment and Security (GMES) and Africa Programme.

GMES and Africa is a joint AU-EU initiative administered by the AU Commission through the Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology which seeks to promote the development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation-based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa. The programme is an important vector for the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy as well as Africa Space Policy and Strategy, and aligned to Aspiration 7 of the African Union Agenda 2063.

Read on »


NOAA’s newest geostationary satellite will be positioned as GOES-East this fall

GOES-16, the most advanced weather satellite NOAA has ever developed, will be moved to the GOES-East position at 75 degrees west longitude, once it is declared operational in November. Top officials from NOAA announced the long-awaited decision at the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook news conference in College Park, Maryland.

GOES-East orbital position
Source: NOAA

GOES-16 scans the Earth and skies five times faster than NOAA’s current geostationary weather satellites, sending back sharper, more defined images at four times greater resolution as often as every 30 seconds, using three times the spectral channels as the previous model. The higher resolution will allow forecasters to see more details in storm systems, especially during periods of rapid strengthening or weakening. Also, GOES-16 carries the first lightning detector flown in geostationary orbit. Total lightning data (in-cloud and cloud-to-ground) from the lightning mapper will provide critical information to forecasters, allowing them to focus on developing severe storms much earlier.

Read the rest of the article here.


Two days left to Register for MultiTemp 2017

There are only two days left to register for MultiTemp 2017.

Registration will close on Friday June 2, 2016 (midnight CET). You can register via the MultiTemp 2017 website.
The folllowing keynotes have already confirmed their participation. For the complete programme, we refer you to the MultiTemp 2017 website.

  • Thuy Le Toan
    Centre d'Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphère - France
  • Feng Gao
    Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture - USA
  • Wolfgang Wagner
    Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) and Earth Observation Data Centre for Water Resources Monitoring (EODC) - Austria

For more information on the event, be sure to click here.


Happy Birthday PROBA-V!

On May 7, PROBA-V celebrated its fourth year in orbit. The team is proud to announce that their PROBA-V adventure continues, as the mission has been extended until at least end October 2019!

PROBA-V was conceived to routinely monitor the land surface and vegetation state globally, continuing the 15+ year legacy of SPOT-VEGETATION, while preparing for the Sentinel-3 series of Copernicus (with Sentinel-3A launched in Feb 2016). At the same time, it offers increased spatial resolutions, with global 100 m and 300 m data.

To celebrate this 4th anniversary, VITO launches its brand new PROBA-V website. Make sure to take a look and discover the new time-lapse videos!


First Belgian Space Mission to Study the Earth's Atmosphere: ALTIUS

Belgium begins the construction of a new space mission, ALTIUS. It is aimed at solving the imminent shortage of satellites capable of measuring the distribution of the most important components in our atmosphere.

These measurements are indispensable for atmospheric models that calculate the effects of increasing greenhouse gas emissions or the banning of chemicals that affect the ozone layer.
ALTIUS is also a technological breakthrough due to its flexible viewing direction and its innovative concept for atmospheric measurements. The Royal Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy is the driving force behind the mission, which has recently officially become part of the Earth Watch program of the European Space Agency ESA.

Interested? Then be sure to check out the rest of the article in French or Dutch.


ECMWF's first Hackathon was a success

To promote the availability and uses of open data, The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) organised Open Data Week @ECMWF which took place from 28 February to 5 March 2017. Among other recent events, there was #OpenDataHack, the first ECMWF's Hackathon, organised on March 4 and 5. It brought together more than 70 developers, data wranglers, scientists and data enthusiasts.
Winning teams were HydroNEXT in the Get Out category, the project "Reading Buses accident and breakdown prediction" in the Get Geeky category, and Team Diversity and team CWS+ in the Get Creative category.

Read on »


ESA's U-TEP offers free urban monitoring satellite data

A new processing tool has been developed to bundle information contained in large amounts of satellite data, paving the way for the wealth of Copernicus Sentinel satellite data to be more easily incorporated into online environment-monitoring services.

TimeScan product: Germany
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

ESA’s online Urban Thematic Exploitation Platform (U-TEP) makes information from satellite data available for the non-expert user for urban environment monitoring.

To do this, it processes hundreds of terabytes of data gathered by Earth-observing satellites, and translates them into easy-to-use products for scientists, urban planners and decision-makers.

Interested in more? Then check out the rest of the article here.


Amazing scientific expedition on Nyiragongo. Participate!

Next June, the Royal Museum for Central Africa will lead and coordinate a huge scientific expedition on one of the most active and dangerous African volcanoes : Mount Nyiragongo.

Nyiragongo lava lake (260m wide) during a minor overflow, in September 2011. (c) B. Smets, 2011

The expedition is organized in collaboration with BBC, the British public TV company, which will produce, in parallel, two documentaries on the Virunga volcanoes. Several Belgian, Luxembourgian and American scientific institutes are implied in this adventure during which scientists will sleep inside the Nyiragongo crater, close to the World’s largest active lava lake. In the framework of this expedition, several tasks will be performed to answer to specific needs of the STEREO-III RESIST Project. For more information about this expedition, which is the largest ever organized on Nyiragongo since the Haroun Tazieff’s expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s, do not hesitate to visit the following webpages and even support them by participating to their crowdfunding campaign!

Nyiragongo 2017 Expedition
Crowdfunding campaign


VITO Watch iT Grow - a new online platform for potato monitoring

Watch iT Grow is a web-based geo-information platform gathering all available data for your potato culture: from soil measurements over climate information all the way to airborne (using drones for example) and spaceborne observations (satellite images). Bringing together this geo-information is invaluable for the potato sector and is necessary to increase the long term sustainable potato production. Using Watch iT Grow, the potato farmer can independently, quickly and easily monitor the growth and development of his potato efficiently. As a result, the farmer can quickly and accurately intervene where necessary.

Check out this short film VITO made to showcase the possibilities of the new application.


Citizen Science for Wallonia

Citizen science, the involvement of citizens in advancing scientific research, is an appealing process. Volunteers feed a project into data. Scientists then interpret, validate and use them to advance their research.

In Wallonia, the SmartPop project relies on this collaborative approach to produce and especially update land use and land use maps, according to population movements.

"Today, COSW (short for carte d’occupation du sol de Wallonie, or ground occupation map of Wallonia in English) is no longer up to date," recalls Benjamin Beaumont (ULB and ISSeP). "Its data are from 2007. With the SmartPop project, which has just started for a three-year period, we want to develop a new, more precise and more up-to-date tool," says the researcher of the Public Service Scientific Institute ISSeP).

Read the rest of the article here (in French).


National Missing Maps Mapathon 2017

Help Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross to facilitate their rescue

After a succesful event last year, a new national Mapathon will take place on Saturday, March 25th, which is organized by the National Committee for Geography, in collaboration with OpenStreetMap Belgium. Several universities in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia open their doors a whole day for a large collective mapping event. Come contribute - do not miss this opportunity and help Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross to facilitate their work in crisis areas.

More information and registration


Goddard's IceCube SmallSat Ready for Launch, Space Station Deployment

Less is more, and that's not just a buzz phrase. Good things are coming in smaller packages (again, not just another buzz phrase). Here's one that's 'on the rocks' coming soon to a launch near you; NASA has an IceCube that will be out of this world.

Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

IceCube, which will measure cloud ice levels using a radiometer, is the first small satellite project managed by Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility. After two years in the making, the 10-pound, breadloaf-sized satellite is poised to take flight on Orbital ATK's seventh contracted commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station, scheduled to launch March 19, 2017, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Read on »


Joint ESA-BELSPO project "BelSAR" illustrates how tandem radar images can help map rural landscapes

 A novel airborne experiment over the flat agricultural landscape of the Netherlands recently simulated, for the first time, images that could be taken by radar satellites orbiting in tandem.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Involving two aircraft flying in very close formation with each carrying a radar instrument, this first flight is part of a larger campaign in Belgium next month, in the framework of the joint ESA-BELSPO project "BelSAR".

Read on »


New collections for PROBA-V and SPOT-VEGETATION

Last February the PROBA-V Collection 1 (C1) reprocessing was completed. The data are entirely available on the portal.
This collection marks among others the release of the Level 2A data products and significant improvements to the cloud detection algorithm. More information on these and other improvements can be found in the latest PROBA-V Product User Manual version. Collection 0 is no longer accessible since 1 March 2017.
Also of note is the release of the reprocessed SPOT-VEGETATION (VGT) data archive on This new collection is referred to as “Collection 3” or C3, which includes among others improvements on cloud and snow/ice detection and radiometric calibration.  Read up on the  improvements in Collection 3 in the latest SPOT-VGT Product User Manual.   Previous SPOT-VGT data collections are no longer accessible.
Both the PROBA-V C1 and SPOT-VGT C3 are available on VITO's free and open virtual research platform. This allows the user to access and analyse the new data collections with a powerful set of tools and libraries, making free use of VITO’s powerful processing infrastructure.


Second ‘colour vision’ satellite for Copernicus launched

 The ESA-developed Sentinel-2B satellite was launched today, doubling the coverage of high-resolution optical imaging in the Sentinel-2 mission for the European Union Copernicus environmental monitoring system.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Read on »


GeoRisCA starts blog on Georisks in Central Africa

GeoRisCA is a BELSPO- and FNR-funded project. It was finalized in 2016. Its main objective was the assessment of the georisk in the Kivu region (DRC, Rwanda, Burundi), by analysing and combining seismic, volcanic and mass-movement hazards as well as the vulnerability of the population, the infrastructures and the natural ecosystems, in order to support risk management.

The people of the GeoRisCA project now created a blog intended to present and deseminate the results of their research. Click here if you want to check it out!


Sentinel-2B launch preparations off to a flying start

Some of us may be easing ourselves gently into the New Year, but for the team readying Sentinel-2B for liftoff on 7 March it’s full steam ahead.

On 5 January, the satellite was shipped from ESA’s site in the Netherlands – where it had been undergoing testing since June – and arrived safe and sound in French Guiana the following day.

Revealing Sentinel-2B
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The Sentinel-2 mission is designed as two satellites working in tandem – Sentinel-2A has been in orbit since June 2015.

Offering ‘colour vision’ for Europe’s Copernicus programme, the mission combines high-resolution and novel multispectral capabilities.

Read more.


UMD, NOAA researchers develop improvements in weather satellite data calibration

“Traffic and weather, together on the hour!” blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of satellites whizzing around Earth collecting mountains of data makes such constant and wide-ranging access to accurate weather forecasts possible. Just one satellite, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R that launched in 2016, can collect 3.5 terabytes of weather data per day.

But how do scientists ensure satellite-measured weather data is good? They can compare live data against high-quality reference data from in-orbit satellites. Making such resources available is a goal of the Global Space-based Inter-Calibration System (GSICS), an international consortium of 15 satellite agencies that collaborate on monitoring satellites and developing methods to ensure the quality of their weather data.

Interested? Read the rest of the article here.


EUMETSAT and NOAA sign Polar System Programme Implementation Plan

On 15 December, Europe and the US achieved another milestone in the cooperation on meteorological satellite systems when Marc Cohen, EUMETSAT Associate Director for LEO Programmes and Harry A. Cikanek III, NOAA Director, Joint Polar Satellite System signed the plan that will implement the Joint Polar System (JPS).

Continue reading.


PROBA-V Collection 1 - sample data

In order to further improve the PROBA-V datasets, a full reprocessing of the PROBA-V archive was launched during the summer of 2016. This new collection is named “Collection 1” or in short “C1”.
Changes in the C1 collection are:

  • Updated cloud detection algorithm;
  • Updates on radiometric calibration parameters;
  • Release L2A products;
  • Meta data compliancy to Climate and Forecasting conventions (v1.6).
On December 5, 2016, VITO switched the near-real-time processing to the new cloud detection algorithm. At the same time, a first set of reprocessed data (starting in Oct 2013) was made available.

If you want to check out sample data or read the rest of the article, be sure to click here.


European ministers ready ESA for a united space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0

ESA today concluded a two-day Council meeting at ministerial level in Lucerne, Switzerland. Ministers in charge for space matters from ESA's 22 member states plus Slovenia and Canada allocated €10.3 billion for space activities and programmes based on the vision of a United Space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0.

The high level of subscriptions demonstrates once more that ESA's Member States consider space as a strategic and attractive investment with a particularly high socio-economic value.

Continue Reading.


Satellites help scientists see forests for the trees amid climate change

Scientists have found a way to use satellites to track photosynthesis in evergreens - a discovery that could improve our ability to assess the health of northern forests amid climate change.

Source: University of Alberta

An international team of researchers used satellite sensor data to identify slight colour shifts in evergreen trees that show seasonal cycles of photosynthesis - the process in which plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose.

Interested in more? Read the rest of the article here.


Start of Service for Europe's SpaceDataHighway

The European Data Relay System began servicing Europe’s Earth observing Copernicus programme yesterday, transferring observations in quasi-real time using cutting-edge laser technology.

The EDRS–SpaceDataHighway will now begin providing a commercial service to the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinels – the first and only of its kind. EDRS is a public–private partnership between ESA and Airbus Defence and Space, with ESA supporting the initial technology development and the company providing the commercial service. The European Commission is EDRS’s anchor customer through its Sentinel-1 and -2 missions.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

EDRS accelerates the transmission of data from low-orbiting satellites like the Sentinels to the end user on the ground. It does so by locking onto the satellites with a laser beam as they pass below, and immediately relaying the information to European ground stations via a high-speed radio beam.

Low-orbiting satellites must usually wait until they travel within view of a ground station to downlink the data they have gathered, resulting in a delay of up to 90 minutes per 100-minute orbit. This is because most ground stations that serve low-orbiting satellites are located in the polar regions, although the Sentinels have additional stations in Italy and Spain.

Continue reading


Early Warning from Space of Homes on the Slide

It was a literal property crash: multiple homes in the Cármenes del Mar resort on the south coast of Spain were engulfed in a landslide, leaving families homeless. But satellite archives offer early warning of such events – and now more accessible than ever before thanks to a new cloud computing platform.

Cármenes del Mar, a coastal development on a hillside in Granada, enjoyed sea views, but soon after its 2005 construction the area became subject to ground shifting and then later it was hit by a full-fledged landslide.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

“This case, and others like it, shows how crucial it is that potential geohazards are factored rigorously into urban planning,” says Jorge Galve of Spain’s ARPA research group.

“Our group has been studying several cases of landslides affecting urban resorts in southern Spain. By combining multiple satellite radar images we were able to detect movements of less than a centimetre per year. Such tiny motion might indicate the first stage of slope destabilisation.

Continue reading


GOES-R heads to orbit, will improve weather forecasting

GOES-R, the first of NOAA’s highly advanced geostationary weather satellites, lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 6:42 p.m. EST last Saturday. The satellite will boost the nation’s weather observation network and NOAA’s prediction capabilities, leading to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings.

Source: NOAA

In about one week, once GOES-R is situated in orbit 22,300 miles above Earth, it will be known as GOES-16. Within a year, after undergoing a checkout and validation of its six instruments, the new satellite will become operational.

“The next generation of weather satellites is finally here. GOES-R is one of the most sophisticated Earth-observing platforms ever devised,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “GOES-R’s instruments will be capable of scanning the planet five times faster and with four times more resolution than any other satellite in our fleet. With these new instruments and powerful new capabilities, GOES-R will strengthen NOAA’s ability to issue life-saving forecasts and warnings and make the United States an even stronger, more resilient Weather-Ready Nation.”

Continue reading


Farewell to Sentinel-2B

Just weeks before Sentinel-2B is packed up and sent to French Guiana for its launch next March, media representatives and specialists got one last look at the second satellite for Europe’s Copernicus programme. At an event held at ESA’s site in the Netherlands – where the satellite has been undergoing testing since June – ESA and Airbus Defence and Space project managers gave journalists an overview of how the satellite was built and tested, and its numerous benefits.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

“It’s a European satellite, built by more than 60 contractors from 15 countries,” noted Michael Menking from Airbus, the prime contractor leading the industrial consortium. Twenty-nine of the companies were small- or medium-sized.

Offering ‘colour vision’ for Europe’s environmental monitoring Copernicus programme, Sentinel-2 combines high-resolution and novel multispectral capabilities to monitor Earth’s changing lands in unprecedented detail and accuracy.

Continue reading


Spaceflight Industries Reveals First Images from BlackSky Pathfinder-1

Spaceflight Industries, a next-generation space company enabling access to space and redefining global intelligence, has revealed some of the first photos captured by its BlackSky Pathfinder-1 satellite after a successful launch on September 26 from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India.

Source: BlackSky

“The preliminary results we’ve achieved thus far have fulfilled our expectations and point to the magnitude at which BlackSky’s 60-satellite constellation will be able to inform global decision-making,” said Jason Andrews, chief executive officer of Spaceflight Industries. “Through Pathfinder-1, which has been a total success, we have proven out our overall business plan and system architecture, and are on track to revolutionize our understanding of the world.”

Continue reading


ULA launches latest DigitalGlobe commercial earth observation satellite WorldView-4

DigitalGlobe reports that the company's newest high-accuracy, high-resolution commercial imaging satellite - WorldView-4, was successfully launched by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Nov. 11 at 10:30am PST. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services procured the Atlas V for this mission. The WorldView-4 satellite was built by Lockheed Martin, and its imaging payload was developed by Harris Corp.

Source: Space Daily

The Lockheed Martin-built WorldView-4 satellite will more than double DigitalGlobe's capacity to collect the world's highest-resolution 30 centimeter commercial satellite imagery and will accelerate the growth of DigitalGlobe's 80-petabyte, 16-year time-lapse image library.

Continue reading


Japan launches advanced weather satellite Himawari-9

On November 2nd, Japan launched a next-generation geostationary meteorological satellite "Himawari-9," aiming to further improve meteorological services in the Asia-Pacific region.

Source: Space Daily

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Launched the Himawari-9 aboard the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No.31 (H-IIA F31) at 3:20 p.m. local time (0620 GMT)from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center in Japan's southwestern Kagoshima prefecture.

Interested in more? Read the rest of the article here.


PROBA-V MEP ready for operational use

The first operational version of the PROBA-V Mission Exploitation Platform (MEP) was released last Wednesday.
The MEP complements the PROBA-V user segment by building an operational Exploitation Platform on PROBA-V and SPOT-VEGETATION data, with the aim to ease and foster the use of the data.

A rich set of tools is gradually deployed so that users can develop, debug and deploy their own applications on a scalable platform with access to the full archive. To get a full overview of the possibilities, check out the rest of the article here.


Philippe De Maeyer receives Tianshan Award

The Government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China granted the Tianshan Award for foreign experts to Professor Philippe De Maeyer for his great contribution to the economic and social progress of the Chinese region.

Source: Universiteit Gent

Since 2005 Philippe De Maeyer (Department of Geography) is working with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG). During the visits of Philippe De Maeyer and his research staff members, an international joint research team (Ghent University- XIEG) carried out an in-depth and innovative cooperation in the domain of land cover change and geo-archaeology, using GIS, photogrammetry and remote sensing techniques. The geo-archaeological research was carried out in collaboration with Prof. Jean Bourgeois (Deptartment of Archeology) and the Xinjiang Turpan Bureau of Cultural Heritage.
Read the full article here.


SMOS on speed

While ESA’s water mission was built to advance our understanding of Earth, it continues to show how well it’s suited to delivering information for numerous applications that improve everyday life. Taking this a step further, soil moisture data products are now available within three hours of measurement, which is essential for many applications.

Wet soils following extensive rainfall
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

SMOS was launched in 2009 to provide global observations of soil moisture and ocean salinity – two important variables in Earth’s water cycle.

The satellite captures images of ‘brightness temperature’, which correspond to radiation emitted from Earth’s surface and can be used to gain information on soil moisture and ocean salinity.

Want to know more? Then be sure to click here for the rest of the article.


NASA-produced maps help gauge Italy earthquake damage

A NASA-funded program provided valuable information for responders and groups supporting the recovery efforts for the Aug. 24, 2016, magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck central Italy. The earthquake caused significant loss of life and property damage in the town of Amatrice.


To assist in the disaster response efforts, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech, both in Pasadena, California, obtained and used radar imagery of the earthquake's hardest-hit region to discriminate areas of damage from that event.

Read more here.


Airbus Defence and Space-built PerúSAT-1 delivers first images

The PerúSAT-1 satellite, designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, has delivered its first images after its successful launch on 16 September from Kourou.

“We constructed PerúSAT-1 in a record time of less than 24 months and now, after having completed the orbital maneuvers to reach its operational orbit at an altitude of 695 km, it has delivered its first image for the Peruvian Space Agency (CONIDA). I would like to thank all the teams for their efforts in achieving this latest milestone,” said Nicolas Chamussy, Head of Space Systems.

Source: Airbus Defense & Space

Airbus Defence and Space is the world’s leading exporter of Earth observation satellites, and PerúSAT-1 is based on the highly flexible, compact AstroBus-S platform featuring a state-of-the-art silicon carbide optical instrument system with 70 cm resolution. It will collect images for use in agriculture, urban planning, border control and drug trafficking, and will support the management of humanitarian aid and the evaluation of natural disasters, among other applications.

Read the rest of the article here.


Imaging the Earth for a better protection

Check out our new video! Through a selection of STEREO research projects, it illustrates how remote sensing contribute to cartography for a wide range of applications. The video was part of the exhibition
"Cartographiae: Science and culture at the palace" which took place this summer at the Royal Palace of Brussels.

"Imaging the Earth for a better protection" A movie illustrating the remote sensing research carried out in the frame of Belgian Science Policy’s STEREO programme

From a vantage point 36,000 km above the equator, geostationary observatory satellites have their lenses continuously trained on the same section of the Earth. Closer to the ground, at an altitude of between 500 and 800 km, polar satellites scan our planet in successive bands until they have covered the entire Earth. Just a few kilometres above our heads, aeroplanes patrol the landscape and even closer than that, we have drones detecting the tiniest details of our plots of land.

All of these platforms are equipped with sophisticated instruments that are considerably more powerful than our eyes. They are capable of detecting the radiation emitted by the Earth's surface or reflected in a wide range of wavelengths (visible light, infrared light, microwave radiation, etc.). Based on the spectral response that is acquired in this way, we can obtain information about a constantly growing number of parameters that are useful for climate studies. If we enter this information into Geographical Information Systems, it results in maps that are indispensable tools for assessment and warnings in numerous fields: agriculture, atmospheric chemistry, epidemiology, forestry, risk management, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, urban planning, etc.

STEREO, the National Research Programme for Earth Observation of the Federal Science Policy Office is funding research projects in remote sensing. The scientific teams are exploring the possibilities for extracting valuable information for decision-making from satellite or aerial materials. This movie illustrates a number of the topics that are covered by the programme: volcanic hazard management in the area of Goma, biotope mapping for Natura 2000 sites, assessment of the water quality in estuaries, automatic update of built-up areas in Belgium and sub-Saharan Africa, monitoring vegetation on a global scale, the probable presence of disease vectors, monitoring the expansion of areas in Brussels that are impervious to water, monitoring crop growth and yield forecasting, and estimating the extent to which the population is exposed to atmospheric pollutants.


Underestimation of Post-Harvest Burning Emissions in the North China Plain

The large-scale burning of crop residues in the North China Plain (NCP), one of the most densely populated world regions, was recently recognized to cause severe air pollution and harmful health effects. A reliable quantification of the magnitude of these fires is needed to assess regional air quality. The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) and its partners ULB, KNMI (Netherlands) and the Peking University (China) used an eight-year record (2005–2012) of formaldehyde measurements from space to constrain the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in this region.


Using inverse modelling, the scientists derived that satellite-based post-harvest burning fluxes are, on average, at least a factor of 2 higher than state-of-the-art bottom-up statistical estimates, although with significant interannual variability.

Interested in more? Read the rest of the article here.


ECMWF launches new Strategy

ECMWF has launched its new ten-year Strategy, which sets ambitious goals that push the limits of predictability in weather forecasting.

A key target is to extend the probabilistic skill of ECMWF’s high-impact weather forecasts by three to six days over the next decade.

This would enable skilful predictions of high-impact weather up to two weeks ahead. Other goals include predicting large-scale patterns and regime transitions up to four weeks ahead, and global-scale anomalies up to a year ahead.

Read the rest of the article here.


Sentinel-1 provides new insight into Italy's earthquake

On 24 August, an earthquake struck central Italy, claiming at least 290 lives and causing widespread damage. Satellite images are being used to help emergency aid organisations, while scientists have begun to analyse ground movement.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The Italian peninsula is prone to earthquakes because of the continuing collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. Under the Apennine mountain chain, the regional collision is causing the African slab to flex and dip under the Tyrrhenian Sea, while at the same time retreating northeastwards.

Curious for more? Click here!


Copernicus Sentinel-1A Satellite hit by Space Particle

ESA engineers have discovered that a solar panel on the Copernicus Sentinel-1A satellite was hit by a millimetre-size particle in orbit on 23 August. Thanks to onboard cameras, ground controllers were able to identify the affected area. So far, there has been no effect on the satellite’s routine operations.

A sudden small power reduction was observed in a solar array of Sentinel-1A, orbiting at 700 km altitude, at 17:07 GMT on 23 August. Slight changes in the orientation and the orbit of the satellite were also measured at the same time.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Following a preliminary investigation, the operations team at ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany suspected a possible impact by space debris or micrometeoroid on the solar wing.

Read more. 


Meteorological satellite fleet notches up 30 years of service

EUMETSAT is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and, in one of those quirky coincidences, its fleet of four Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellites have now, between them, notched up 30 years in orbit.

The MSG satellites (known as Meteosat-8, -9, -10 and -11) are geostationary satellites, orbiting 36,000km above the Earth.

“The MSG fleet is helping to build one of the longest climate data records from space, as well as providing data crucial for nowcasting severe weather events over Europe,” EUMETSAT MSG Indian Ocean Data Coverage service Project Manager Flavio Murolo said.

Read the rest of the article here.


China's first high orbit remote sensing satellite put into use

China's first high orbit remote sensing satellite, Gaofen-4, went into use after six months of in-orbit testing, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced Monday.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

Gaofen-4 is China's first geosynchronous orbit high-definition optical imaging satellite and the world's most sophisticated.

Unlike from Gaofen-1 and Gaofen-2 in low orbits around the earth, Gaofen-4 is orbiting at 36,000 kilometers. High orbit satellites have the advantage of being able to snap "grand scenarios." Low orbit satellites, in contrast, can see more detail at faster speed.

Want to know more? Then be sure to check out the rest of the article here.


Sentinel-1 helping Cyclone Roanu relief

Last May, Cyclone Roanu claimed over 100 lives in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and left tens of thousands in need of aid. Officials are looking to the sky for information on flooded areas to analyse the cyclone's aftermath and support emergency response activities.

On May 23rd, the Sentinel-1A satellite captured about 80% of the country of Bangladesh during a single pass. The images were quickly delivered to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) to create flood maps, revealing over 170 000 hectares to be inundated.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Want to know more about this image? Then be sure to check out the article here.


Sentinel-1 satellites combine radar vision

The twin Sentinel-1 satellites have – for the first time – combined to show their capability for revealing even small deformations in Earth’s surface.

Following its orbital manoeuvres, the recently launched Sentinel-1B satellite reached its designated orbit position on 15 June.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The satellite is now orbiting Earth 180° apart from its twin, Sentinel-1A, at an altitude of almost 700 km. With both satellites finally in the same orbit, together they can cover the whole globe every six days.  

Read the article after the jump.


A first: NASA spots single methane leak from space

For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth's surface. The observation -- by the Hyperion spectrometer on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) -- is an important breakthrough in our ability to eventually measure and monitor emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from space.

Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

In a new paper accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a research team with scientist David R. Thompson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, detailed the observation, which occurred over Aliso Canyon, near Porter Ranch, California. The Hyperion instrument successfully detected the methane leak on three separate overpasses during the winter of 2015-16. The research was part of an investigation of the large accidental Aliso Canyon methane release last fall and winter.

The orbital observations from Hyperion were consistent with airborne measurements made by NASA's Airborne/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) imager flying onboard a NASA ER-2 aircraft.

Did this get you interested? Read on here.


Nansen Gives Birth to Two Icebergs

Multiple satellites, including Europe’s Sentinels, have captured images of two large icebergs that broke away from Antarctica’s Nansen ice shelf on 7 April.

Birth of two icebergs
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The icebergs are drifting to the northeast, propelled by wind, tides and currents. Experts say they do not pose any immediate threat of blocking supply routes to research stations such as the Italian Mario Zucchelli and South Korean Jang Bogo Stations in Terra Nova Bay.

Nonetheless, the icebergs may pose a threat to sea-floor moorings in the region that have been used by Italy’s National Antarctic Programme since the 1990s, and more recently by New Zealand ocean scientists.

For more info, click here.


Hitching a ride with Sentinel-1B

The Sentinel-1B satellite is now fuelled and ready to join the Soyuz rocket that will take it into orbit on 22 April at 21:02 GMT (23:02 CEST). Once in orbit, it will provide radar images of Earth for Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring programme.

Sentinel-1B on board Soyuz (artist's impression)
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

With the Sentinel-1 mission designed as a two-satellite constellation, Sentinel-1B will join its identical twin, Sentinel-1A, which was launched two years ago.

By orbiting 180° apart, global coverage and data delivery are optimised for the Copernicus services.

Read the rest of the article after the jump.


Sentinel-3A feels the heat

Despite only being in orbit a matter of weeks, Sentinel-3A has already delivered some impressive first images. With the thermal-infrared channels now turned on, the satellite completes its set of firsts with a view of ocean features off the coast of Namibia.

Thermal Signature of Namibian Coastline
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Arguably the most comprehensive of all the Copernicus Sentinel missions, Sentinel-3A carries a suite of state-of-the-art instruments to systematically measure the temperature of Earth's oceans, land, ice and atmosphere.

Want to read the rest of the article? Then be sure to click here.


PROBA-V Mission Exploitation Platform released

During the PROBA-V Symposium, which was organised from 26-28 January in Ghent, the PROBA-V MEP team officially released and introduced the new platform and gave several demos to interested users. Check it out out here.


Third Sentinel Satellite Launched for Copernicus

The third ESA-developed satellite carrying four Earth-observing instruments was launched yesterday evening, ready to provide a ‘bigger picture’ for Europe’s Copernicus environment programme.

The 1150 kg Sentinel-3A satellite was carried into orbit on a Rockot launcher from Plesetsk, Russia, at 17:57 GMT (18:57 CET; 20:57 local time) on 16 February.

Sentinel-3A artist's impression. Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The mission is the third of six families of dedicated missions that make up the core of Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring network. Copernicus relies on the Sentinels and contributing missions to provide data for monitoring the environment and supporting civil security activities. Sentinel-3 carries a series of cutting-edge sensors to do just that.

Want to know more? Then be sure to click here.


All Instruments Now Integrated With JPSS-1 Spacecraft

Building a weather satellite is no easy task. It takes several years of design and engineering to piece all of the instruments together and prepare a satellite for launch.

ATMS instrument being lowered onto the JPSS-1 spacecraft. Source: NOAA

As NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) satellite moves towards its early 2017 launch date, the fifth and final instrument, the ATMS (Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder), an instrument critical to forecasting weather three to seven days in advance, has been integrated with the satellite.

“This marks a very significant milestone for the JPSS program,” said Harry Cikanek, JPSS Director. “Soon, the spacecraft will be prepared for the environmental testing phase which is the next step toward launch.”

Want to know more? Then click here.


Sentinel-3A poised for liftoff

With just one to liftoff, the next Sentinel satellite for Copernicus is now on the launch pad at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia.

The rocket will be fuelled tonight at 17:57 GMT (18:57 CET).

Sentinel-3A heads to launch pad. Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The Sentinel-3A satellite has been at the cosmodrome since early December going through a series of tests and being readied for the big day. After being sealed from view in the rocket fairing last week, it was rolled out to the pad today.

Did this get you interested? Then read the rest of the article here.


NASA Radar Brings a New View of World Heritage Site

In just two 10-minute overflights, an airborne NASA synthetic aperture radar proved it could pinpoint areas of disturbance in Peru's Nasca lines World Heritage Site. The data collected on the two flights will help Peruvian authorities fully catalog the thousand-year-old designs drawn on the ground in and around the site for the first time, as well as giving them a new tool for protecting the fragile constructions from both careless humans and natural disturbances such as floods.

The hummingbird glyph and its surroundings in the Nasca world heritage site. Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The left frame shows a portion of the mesa-top site in a Google Earth image. Drainage gullies circle the mesa where the Nasca people constructed lines several miles long, enormous polygons, and animal figures simply by moving rocks. A shape called the Hummingbird is faintly visible above and to the left of the scale line, its long beak ending below a road that cuts diagonally from the right edge of the image to the center.

Interested? Then read the rest here.


NOAA's GOES-S, T and U Satellites Are Shaping Up

As NOAA's GOES-R satellite goes through mechanical testing in preparation for launch in October 2016, the remaining satellites in the series (GOES-S, T, and U) are also making significant progress.

Source: NASA

Six new instruments will fly aboard each of the GOES-R series satellites: Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS), Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), Magnetometer, Space Environment In Situ Suite (SEISS), and Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI). In addition to these instruments the spacecraft itself, known as the "bus," antennas, flight hardware and software, and other components are also being completed.

Together, the instruments will offer advanced imaging with increased resolution and faster coverage for more accurate forecasts of environmental phenomena like: severe storms, fog, fire, aerosols and volcanic ash, as well as real-time mapping of lightning activity. The instruments will also enable NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center to significantly improve forecasts of space weather hazards.

Read on


Canada Breaks the Ice with Sentinel-1 Data

How can access to Sentinel data increase Canada’s ability to offer improved information on sea ice?

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Radar satellite data like those from Sentinel-1 can provide day and night information, and through clouds, of entire coastal areas even during harsh weather. This is especially important during the winter months, when conditions can be very unfavourable at northern latitudes.

Sentinel will allow the Canadian Ice Service of Environment Canada to offer better information on sea ice, helping mariners to avoid it or to find the safest route.

Sentinel-1 is dedicated to providing information for a range of practical applications for Europe’s Copernicus environmental programme.

> Read on


Latest issue of "Copernicus Observer" online!

The 12th issue of the Copernicus Observer newsletter has been recently published by the European Commission.

Through this latest edition readers will learn more about the support of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service to crisis preparedness and response operations in Nepal, how free and open access to Copernicus data enables the commercialisation of new web and mobile applications, the benefits of Copernicus for SMEs and the partnership between the European Union and the African Union to strengthen coordination amongst Earth Observation initiatives.

Moreover, in this issue, Andreas Veispak,  Acting Head of Unit – Space Data for Societal Challenges and Growth at the European Commission, shares his views on why Copernicus data is an important part of the modern society.

This issue also includes a new special section dedicated to outstanding Sentinel imagery. You can access the newsletter via this link.


New Pléiades coverage of Belgium available at the Airbus GeoStore

In the course of 2015, the Pléiades satellites have been collecting data over Belgium in full resolution (50 cm). These have now been put together into a near-complete coverage mosaic.

This mosaic, or any subsection of it, can be acquired through the Airbus GeoStore directly (at commercial prices), but Belgian institutional users can purchase the same data at vastly reduced cost by simply passing through the Belgian Pléiades Archive first. After your successful registration we will gladly help you find and purchase the data at the reduced prices.

The 2015 Pléiades mosaic over Belgium

We would also like to bring your attention to the full Belgian coverage in Pléiades data from 2013. This set was acquired in a coordinated effort by the Belgian Science Policy and the Flemish, Wallonian and Brussels regions, and has been made available free of charge for all institutional users. It can be downloaded from the Belgian Pléiades Archive directly.

Apart from this Belgian coverage, the archive also boasts a rising number of images outside of Belgium, that are available for download as well. So if you're interested in free data and you're eligible to become an authorised user, don't hesitate and register for the Belgian Pléiades Archive!


Doors open to Sentinel-2

Copernicus has now opened up access to a new set of satellite data. Sentinel-1A data (radar) were already available for some time, and these are now complemented with the first data from the recently launched Sentinel-2A satellite, which offers multispectral data in 13 bands (visible, NIR and SWIR) with a resolution of up to 10 m.

Sentinel-2A - Source: VICE News

Access to these data is provided by the Sentinels Scientific Data Hub. Registration is mandatory, but it's open to all users via simple on-line self-registration.

The Scientific Hub ensures easy access to all data through a map interface with additional search fields that allow you to pinpoint the exact data you need for your research.


STEREO III Third call for proposals

The third call for STEREO call for proposals is now on-line. The call concerns thematic network projects only.

The (mandatory) expression of interest should be submitted by January 28 2016 at the latest. The 

Research proposals must be submitted no later than 17 March 2016 at 5 PM. 

For more information, please click here.


ESA issues call for new Earth Explorer proposals

ESA is announcing an opportunity for scientists involved in Earth observation to submit proposals for the next potential Earth Explorer satellite mission.

Traditionally, Earth Explorers use new measurement techniques to explore and understand different aspects of the Earth system.

Spiral of innovation
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

So far, eight missions have been selected. Each was proposed by the scientific community and realised through a user-driven selection process to ensure that they address urgent Earth-science questions.

Reflecting the new Earth Observation Science Strategy for ESA, proposals for the ninth Explorer should not only demonstrate scientific excellence and innovative technology, but also address important scientific questions that have a direct bearing on societal issues humankind will face in the coming decades.

Interested in more? Read the rest of the article here.


New Satellite to Measure Plant Health

ESA plans to track the health of the world’s vegetation by detecting and measuring the faint glow that plants give off as they convert sunlight and the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide into energy.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Yielding information about the health and stress of the planet’s vegetation is important as the growing global population places increasing demands on the production of food and animal feed.

Following a rigorous selection process, the satellite will be ESA’s eighth Earth Explorer, planned for launch by 2022.

Interested? Read the rest of the article after the jump.


Sentinel-3A on its way

The latest satellite for the European Commission’s Copernicus environmental programme has left France bound for the Plesetsk launch site in Russia and launch late next month.

Carrying a suite of state-of-the-art instruments, Sentinel-3A is set to provide an unprecedented step forward in the Copernicus marine, land, atmosphere and climate change services.

Sentinel-3 over ocean and ice
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The satellite began its two-day journey from Thales Alenia Space in Cannes to Nice airport by lorry during the night. An Antonov aircraft will now carry the precious cargo to Arkhangelsk in Russia after a stopover in Moscow to clear paperwork.

Read the rest of the article here.


CryoSat tracks Arctic sea ice freeze-up

Arctic sea-ice volume during the first two weeks of October was about 6,200 cubic km. The number comes from Europe's CryoSat mission, which has just restarted its near-real-time data service.

It is slightly higher than for the same period in 2010, but 1,500 cu km below the 2013 high point seen by the space sensor, now in its sixth year in orbit.

Source: BBC Science

A rapid data feed is aimed at those sectors that need to be aware of the position of the most robust floes. These include shipping and oil and gas operations.

Did this get you interested? Then read on here.


Daily views of earth available on New NASA Website

NASA launched a new website Monday so the world can see images of the full, sunlit side of the Earth every day. The images are taken by a NASA camera one million miles away on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force.

Source: NASA

Once a day NASA will post at least a dozen new color images of Earth acquired from 12 to 36 hours earlier by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC). Each daily sequence of images will show the Earth as it rotates, thus revealing the whole globe over the course of a day. The new website also features an archive of EPIC images searchable by date and continent.

Read more.


Melting slows Greenland Ice Flow

It may seem counter intuitive, but satellite data suggest that part of the Greenland ice sheet moves more slowly if the surface of the ice melts faster.

Greenland is losing vast quantities of ice to the ocean, raising sea levels. Icebergs calving from the edge of the ice sheet account for around half of this loss and the other half is because of surface melt.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Once the surface of the ice melts, however, what follows is rather complex.

The Greenland ice sheet is always on the move, flowing under its own weight. This flow towards the ocean is controlled by several factors, but how surface meltwater drains through the 3 km-thick sheet to the ground below and the effect this has on the speed of ice flow is poorly understood.

Read the rest of the article here.


China plans to launch CO2 monitoring satellite in 2016

China is reported to be planning to launch the global carbon dioxide observatory satellite into space in 2016. Recently, all satellite payloads have finished the samples development.

example of CO2 concentration map, based on AIRS Aqua data. Source: NASA

CO2-observatory satellite aims to establish ground-based data processing and verification system, make monitoring precision be better than 4ppm, and become feasible to monitoring carbon dioxide of world, China and other major regions.

Interested in more? Then be sure to visit the rest of the article.


30 Years of Earth Observation in Belgium: the movie

Satellite images show us the Earth in a different way. But what can those images teach us? How can we extract the information hidden within?
To address those questions, the Belgian government launched 30 years ago its first national research programme for Earth observation under the name TELSAT. A few pioneer scientists started studying how to use those images for some applications such as agriculture, forestry and urban mapping.
Today, remote sensing has become an indispensable tool for a large variety of applications in all sectors of society. Belgium has developed a vibrant remote sensing community, with an internationally acknowledged expertise in the field of satellite Earth observation.
TELSAT has become STEREO (Support to the Exploitation and Research in Earth Observation) which is now in its third phase. Together, Belgian researchers and STEREO programme managers are ready to tackle the challenges of the future.

The STEREO programme is managed by the Space Research and Applications Directorate of the Belgian Science Policy office . If you want to know more about the STEREO programmes, please check out the About section of this website or have a look at our STEREO II final publication on the EOEdu website

Cliquez ici pour voir cette video en français.
Klik hier om deze video in het Nederlands te bekijken.


Arctic sea ice minimum extent reached, El Niño link unclear

According to a NASA analysis of satellite data, the 2015 Arctic sea ice minimum extent is the fourth lowest on record since observations from space began.

Source: NASA Global Climate Change

The analysis by NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder showed the annual minimum extent was 1.70 million square miles (4.41 million square kilometers) on Sept. 11. This year’s minimum is 699,000 square miles (1.81 million square kilometers) lower than the 1981-2010 average.

Check the rest of the article here!


SSTL's DMC3 Constellation demonstrates 1-metre capability

The first 1-metre high resolution optical satellite imagery from the DMC3/TripleSat Constellation satellites has been released today. This follows the successful launch of the three Earth Observation mini-satellites on an Indian PSLV in July and in-orbit commissioning and calibration by engineers from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). 

Source: Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

The very high resolution imager on board the satellites provides 1-metre native ground sampling distance (GSD) in panchromatic mode and 4-metre GSD in multispectral mode with a swath width of 24km.

Want to know more? Click here!


Happy Bearth Day! Belgium Celebrates 30 years of Remote Sensing Research!

Source: Happy Bearth Day


The Earth's population was half of what it is today. Ronald Reagan, Michael Gorbatchov and Deng Xiaoping ruled the world. Microsoft released its first version of Windows. Scientists discovered a hole in the earth's ozone layer. Madonna kicked off her first world tour.

Wilfried Martens was prime minister. His services in charge of scientific programmation launched the TELSAT programme, the first Belgian programme for remote sensing research. Its prime focus: tentatively exploring the possibilities offered by the French SPOT satellite for research.
30 years and a generation later
TELSAT has become STEREO, which is now in its third phase. Remote sensing is firmly entrenched as a tool in research and resource management and Belgium has a vibrant remote sensing community.

30 years of continuous dedicated financing of remote sensing research is quite unique in Europe.  So we thought it was time to step back and take stock. Time to reminisce and to look forward to the future. But above all, time to celebrate!

And we will. On September 17th, BELSPO organises an event to commemorate the past 30 years: Happy Bearth Day. Renowned speakers from the Earth Observation field, both national and international, will take you back to the beginning and forward to the future.


Sentinel-2 catches eye of algal storm

The Sentinel-2A satellite has been in orbit for only a matter of weeks, but new images of an algal bloom in the Baltic Sea show that it is already exceeding expectations. Built essentially as a land monitoring mission, Sentinel-2 will also certainly find its way into marine applications.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Warm weather and calm seas this August have increased the amount of biological activity in the central Baltic Sea, with the Finnish algae monitoring service Alg@line reporting a dominance of cyanobacteria in the region at this time.

Interested in more? Then click here.


Sentinel-1A watching Jakobshavn glacier in action

Satellite images show that the fastest moving glacier in the world shed a chunk of ice measuring around 12.5 sq km this week – one of the most significant calving events on record.

Radar images from Sentinel-1A captured the Jakobshavn glacier in western Greenland before and after the event, which took place between 14 and 16 August.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Comparing images taken on 27 July, and 13 and 19 August, the new face of the glacier has been pushed inland by several kilometres to what appears to be its furthest easterly location since monitoring began in the mid-1880s.

Click here for the rest of the article.


Help wanted on tracking biodiversity from space

Conservation organisations and space agencies are being called on to join forces to decide how changes in biodiversity can be monitored globally. What, exactly, should be measured by satellites?

Biodiversity refers to the different types of life found on Earth. While it is a measure of the variety of organisms in ecosystems, it is difficult to quantify because it cannot be assessed in physical units, unlike other aspects of global change.

Biodiversity is not evenly distributed, but varies greatly around the globe as well as within regions. Among other factors, the diversity of all living things depends on temperature, precipitation, altitude, soils, geography and the presence of other species.

Coral Reefs - Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Researchers have tried to define a set of biodiversity variables that can be monitored globally from space. However, insufficient access to data, uncertainties in the continuity of observations and limitations of satellite imagery means there is still some way to go.

Did this get you interested? Read the rest of the article after the jump.


MSG-4, Europe's latest weather satellite, delivers first image

The Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) instrument on MSG-4 captured its first image of Earth on 4 August. This demonstrates that Europe's latest geostationary weather satellite, launched on 15 July, is performing well and is on its way to becoming fully operational when needed after six months of commissioning.

The European Space Agency (ESA) was responsible for the initial operations after launch (the so-called launch and early orbit phase) of MSG-4 and handed over the satellite to EUMETSAT on 26 July.


The first image is a joint achievement by ESA, EUMETSAT, and the European space industry. For its mandatory programmes, EUMETSAT relies on ESA for the development of new satellites and procuring the recurrent satellites like MSG-4. This cooperation model has made Europe a world leader in satellite meteorology by making best use of the two agencies' expertise.

Want to know more? Then click here!


Sentinels catch Traffic Jam

Low water levels in the Danube river have left ships to queue close to the town of Zimnicea in Romania.

The heat wave torturing Europe earlier this month caused the level of the Danube to drop, and triggered traffic problems.

Thanks to the first two Sentinel satellites, a cluster of ships has been spotted near the riverbanks. This information is being used by the Romanian Lower Danube River Administration to monitor navigation at critical points such as those close to the town of Zimnicea.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Want to know more? Be sure to check out the rest of the article here.


First applications from Sentinel-2A

From agricultural monitoring to charting changing lands, early images from Europe’s new Sentinel-2A satellite show how the ‘colour vision’ mission’s critical observations can be used to keep us and our planet safe.

Agriculture in Saudi Arabia
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 23 June, Sentinel-2A is the second satellite in orbit for Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring programme.

Its multispectral camera will feed land-monitoring applications such as agriculture, inland and coastal waters, and land-cover mapping.

Interested in the rest of the article? Read it here!


Increased Budget for RV Belgica

Secretary of State for Science Policy, Elke Sleurs, has increased the maintenance budget for our oceanographic research vessel, the RV Belgica. She has provided €1,019,000 on top of the existing, recurrent annual increase (€550,000) in the RV Belgica's operating budget. This is a clear signal of just how important our research vessel is!


Proba-V maps World Air Traffic from Space

As ESA’s Proba-V works quietly on its main task of monitoring vegetation growth across Earth, the minisatellite is also picking up something from a little higher: signals from thousands of aircraft.

Proba-V detecting aircraft
Source: ESA Space Engineering & Technology

Launched two years ago, Proba-V has picked up upwards of 25 million positions from more than 15 000 separate aircraft.

This is a technical world-first, demonstrating the feasibility of follow-on orbital constellations now being readied for operational aircraft monitoring.

Want to know more? Then click here.


CryoSat detects sudden ice loss in Southern Antarctic Peninsula

A recent acceleration in ice loss in a previously stable region of Antarctica has been detected by ESA's ice mission. The latest findings by a team of scientists from the UK's University of Bristol show that with no sign of warning, multiple glaciers along the Southern Antarctic Peninsula suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean starting in 2009 at a rate of about 60 cubic km each year.

Ice loss dips gravity
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Did this sound interesting? Then check out the rest of the article here.


Space Technology Identifies Vulnerable Regions in West Africa

A group of international researchers led by the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester have used space satellite technology to identify regions of West Africa which are vulnerable to the effects of land degradation through climate change.

Dust storm over the Atlantic
Source: Science Newsline - Nature & Earth

The team studied land degradation in Sub-Saharan West Africa, covering an area of approximately 6,140,000 km2, using statistical residual trend analysis (RESTREND) of vegetation photosynthetic capacity data (GIMMS NDVI3g), soil moisture and rainfall measured by satellites.

Got you interested? Be sure to check out the full article here.


Copernicus Masters Competition now Accepting Submissions

In its fifth year, the Copernicus Masters competition is open again. Ideas for services, business concepts and applications based on satellite Earth observation data are now being accepted.

The vast amounts of data produced by Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring programme and its Sentinel satellites open the door to countless products and applications in a wide array of business sectors.

last year's winners of Copernicus Masters Prize
Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Interested in the details? You can find them here!


SPOT-5 Take 5 - First image released from campaign

On 2 April 2015, the SPOT-5 satellite was successfully manoeuvred into a new orbit as part of the mission's final phase.

This experimental phase for the mission, SPOT-5 (Take 5), involves the satellite being tasked to observe selected sites before the satellite is deorbited later this year in autumn.

Yesterday the first image for this phase was acquired and processed, marking the beginning of the six month acquisition campaign, during which 150 sites will be imaged with a 5-day revisit.

Source: ESA Earth Online

This first image, pictured above, was acquired over Uganda at Lake Victoria. In this colour composite 60m resolution image we can see part of Uganda's coast along the African Great Lake.

Want to know more about the SPOT-5 Take 5 initiative, be sure to click here.


Arctic sea ice is smallest size on record this winter

Arctic sea ice this year is the smallest in winter since satellite records began in 1979, in a new sign of long-term climate change, U.S. data showed on Thursday.

The ice floating on the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole reached its maximum annual extent of just 14.54 million square kms (5.61 million sq miles) on Feb. 25 - slightly bigger than Canada - and is now expected to shrink with a spring thaw.

Source: Reuters

"This year’s maximum ice extent was the lowest in the satellite record, with below-average ice conditions everywhere except in the Labrador Sea and Davis Strait," the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said in a statement. A late season surge in ice was still possible, it said. The ice was 1.1 million sq kms smaller than the 1981-2010 average, and below the previous lowest maximum in 2011.

Did this get you interested? Then click here for the rest of the article.


PROBA-V 100 m products released!

VITO proudly announces that PROBA-V 100 m products are now available via their Product Distribution portal. PROBA-V 100 m products are available as 1- and 5-day synthesis files:

  • S1 TOA reflectance (not atmospherically corrected)
  • S1 TOC reflectance (atmospherically corrected)
  • S5 TOA reflectance (not atmospherically corrected)
  • S5 TOC reflectance (atmospherically corrected)
  • S5 NDVI (atmospherically corrected)

Want to know more? Be sure to check the dedicated website.


Imaging Earth: Utilizing Advances in Earth Observation

There is a potential treasure trove of scientific knowledge in the variety and amount of data collected through remote Earth observation. But the potential is only half the story – developing ways to effectively use that data is another challenge.

A map of glacier loss based on GRACE data. Source: Earthzine

Jack Kaye of NASA spoke to issues surrounding Earth observation by satellites at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held in February in San Jose, California.

Kaye, associate director for research in NASA’s Earth Science Division, emphasized the variety of data that can be collected from space and the multitude of ways that data can be used to learn more about Earth and its population.

Got interested? Read the rest of the article here.


Mapping sea surface from the space station

 A new concept that involves mounting an instrument on the International Space Station and taking advantage of signals from navigation satellites could provide measurements of sea-surface height and information about features related to ocean currents, benefiting science and ocean forecasting.

Sea Surface Temperature (cm). Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Did this spike your interest? Then find out more after the jump.


30 cm WorldView-3 imagery products are now available

The data distributor behind WorldView-3, DigitalGlobe, recently announced they are now accepting orders for 30 cm WorldView-3 imagery products.

Sample image at 30 cm resolution. Source: DigitalGlobe

Want to know more about the data and how to acquire them? Then check out the dedicated section on the DigitalGlobe website.


STEREO III Call for proposals

The STEREO III Programme has just launched its 2015 Call for proposals. This time around, the call is for Exploration Projects.

Apart from that there's also a permanent call, with the following topics:

  1. Development of applications
  2. Shared cost projects
  3. Dissemination and support projects

If you want to know more about either of these calls, then go and read all about them here.


36 years of radar vision

ESA has recently recovered imagery from the oldest synthetic aperture radar – or SAR – in space, renewing our view of a changing Earth.

Comparing data from three generations of radar missions – Seasat, ERS and Sentinel-1 – the retreat of two large glaciers in southeast Greenland over a 36-year period is evident in the image below.

Greenland glaciers seen by three generations of radar missions – source: ESA Observing the Earth

This preliminary analysis shows that the effects of climate change on the world’s second largest ice sheet have had a major impact over the past three decades. The glaciers show significant retreat, with the upper glacier receding by about 5.5 km over the past 36 years. This melt is contributing to sea-level rise and the release of more freshwater into the North Atlantic.

Did this spike your interest? Be sure to read the rest of the article here.


European Union organises Survey on Earth observation in a global context

This survey builds on consultations conducted by the European Commission in 2013 and 2014 with the aim to provide the state of play regarding the implementation of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) during the last ten years. As an outcome of these previous consultations (see reference documents accessible from this survey), several preliminary issues and possible actions at EU level have been identified in view of accelerating the evolution of the GEOSS into a system that could effectively contribute to EU policies, generate business opportunities for the EU industry and bring benefits to European society as a whole.

Image source: Clark Howard

Through this EU public consultation, the European Commission is actively seeking contributions by all those in Europe interested in the global context of Earth observation in order to help:

  • estimate general awareness of and stance on Earth observations (EO), GEO and GEOSS;
  • appreciate how to maximize EU benefits from an increased Earth observation coordination through GEO;
  • collect views on a set of possible actions at EU level in the field of global Earth observation and GEO.

Contributions are expected until 20/04/2015.

More information on the survey can be found here.


Up, Up, and Away for DSCOVR

The journey has been a long one for the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Once known as Triana, the mission was conceived in 1998 to provide continuous views of Earth and measurements of Earth’s albedo. It was canceled in 2001, and the partly-built satellite ended up in storage for several years with an uncertain future. In 2008, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and the U.S. Air Force decided to refurbish the spacecraft and outfit it with a new instrument designed to monitor the solar wind. On February 11, 2015, DSCOVR was finally lofted into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Interested in what happened next? Read the rest of the article over on the NASA website.


Goodbye QuickBird!

On Tuesday 27 January 2015, after 13 years of excellent performance, Quickbird approached its end of mission smoothly and re-entered the earths' atmosphere at 01:59 UTC above the South Atlantic Ocean near southern Brazil.

Algerian Dunes - Source: European Space Imaging

QuickBird was on orbit for more than 13 years, far exceeding its designed mission life. The satellite made over 70,000 trips around the Earth. Quickbird archive imagery will continue to be available for purchase, and the follow-up through new acquisitions will be taken care of by its siblings in the DigitalGlobe constellation.


STEREO III Programme issues Second Call for Proposals

To execute the decision of the Council of Ministers on 15 November 2012 concerning the implementation of the Belgian space strategy, the State Secretary for Science Policy approved the STEREO III programme on 19 September 2013.

Want to know more? Be sure to read the full announcement here.


NASA on Pace To Loft 13 Earth Science Missions by 2022

With three missions launched in 2014 and two scheduled to fly in January 2015, NASA is making significant progress reinvigorating its fleet of Earth observation satellites and space-based instruments, said Michael Freilich, NASA Earth Science Division director.

When Freilich took that job in 2006, the division’s fleet was composed primarily of spacecraft that had exceeded their anticipated lifespan. While many of those aging satellites remain aloft, they gradually are being replaced and augmented by new free-flying spacecraft and Earth observation instruments mounted to the exterior of the international space station.

Ice, Cloud,and land Elevation Satellite-2.
Source: SpaceNews

That progress is likely to continue under the 2015 budget signed Dec. 16 by President Barack Obama, which provides the Earth Science Division with $1.75 billion. “We fared reasonably well in the budget,” Freilich said Dec. 18 during the Earth Science Division Town Hall, an annual event at the American Geophysical Union conference here. “Things remain relatively stable as they have been over the last several years.”

See more at the SpaceNews website.


First visible satellite imagery from FY-2G successfully acquired

At 13:00 of January 8, National Satellite Meteorological Centre (NSMC) of China Meteorological Administration (CMA) successfully acquired the first satellite visible imagery of FY-2G. The imagery is quite clear and in focus.

Source: China Meteorological Administration

"Compared with YF-2F satellite, the YF-2G further suppresses the stray light of satellite imagery and significantly improve the imagery quality. The first satellite visible imagery of FY-2G is the clearest imagery made by the series of FY satellites. It shows that the communication link between satellite and ground is opened up, the system is well-matched and the instruments of the satellite are working properly." Said by Yang Jun, the director of NSMC.

Read the rest of the article after the jump.


Small volcanic eruptions explain warming hiatus

The “warming hiatus” that has occurred over the last 15 years has been caused in part by small volcanic eruptions.

Scientists have long known that volcanoes cool the atmosphere because of the sulfur dioxide that is expelled during eruptions. Droplets of sulfuric acid that form when the gas combines with oxygen in the upper atmosphere can persist for many months, reflecting sunlight away from Earth and lowering temperatures at the surface and in the lower atmosphere.

August 2014 eruption of Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea.
Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Previous research suggested that early 21st-century eruptions might explain up to a third of the recent warming hiatus.

New research available online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (link is external) (GRL) further identifies observational climate signals caused by recent volcanic activity. This new research complements an earlier GRL paper published in November, which relied on a combination of ground, air and satellite measurements, indicating that a series of small 21st-century volcanic eruptions deflected substantially more solar radiation than previously estimated.

Want to read the rest of the article? Be sure to do that here!


Salinity Matters

Measurements of salt held in surface seawater are becoming ever-more important for us to understand ocean circulation and Earth’s water cycle. ESA’s SMOS mission is proving essential to the quest.

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite, SMOS, is monitoring changes in the amount of water held in the surface layers of soil and concentrations of salt in the top layer of seawater – both of which are a consequence of the continuous exchange of water between the oceans, the atmosphere and the land.

Launched in 2009, SMOS has provided the longest continuous record of sea-surface salinity measurements from space.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The salinity of surface seawater is controlled largely by the balance between evaporation and precipitation, but fresh water from rivers and the freezing and melting of ice also changes the concentrations.

Want to read the rest of the article? You can do that here!


Europe-wide Appathons & ESA App Camp Barcelona

For the fourth time, ESA will initiate an app development event in Europe. But this year, due to the new selection process, it is going to be more competitive and innovative than ever.

Joining one of the six simultaneous Appathons, which will be held across Europe on 24-25 Jan 2015 will offer access to the latest Earth observation data and the power of the SAP HANA Cloud Platform.
Participants will meet like-minded people and tackle some of the world's greatest challenges! Besides, all winning teams will be invited to the ESA App Camp Barcelona sponsored by SAP (25 Feb - 3 Mar 2015).

All information is also available at

If you have any questions or require any further information please do not hesitate to contact

ESA APP CAMP Barcelona


NASA study shows 13-year record of drying Amazon caused vegetation declines

A 13-year decline in vegetation in the eastern and southeastern Amazon has been linked to a decade-long rainfall decline in the region, a new NASA-funded study finds.

Source: NASA

With global climate models projecting further drying over the Amazon in the future, the potential loss of vegetation and the associated loss of carbon storage may speed up global climate change.

Read the rest of the article here.


Airbus present Highly Attractive Special Offers for their Archive data

Airbus announces a series of highly attractive special offers on our archive data – available now and until the end of the year. Each week, another type of image is subjected to an important reduction. For an overview of reductions from past and present, check out their website.

For your information: Belgian users eligible for the authorised user discounts, are in many cases better off ordering their data through the Belgian Pléiades Portal. Check out now whether you can become an authorised user!


SSC supports the DEIMOS-2 satellite from launch through commercial service

The Swedish Space Corporation, SSC, is proud to announce its successful ground station support to the Spanish satellite DEIMOS-2, which started providing commercial services to users around the world on 3 November.

Source: Swedish Space Corporation (SSC)

Deimos-2DEIMOS-2, owned and operated by Elecnor Deimos, is the first Spanish very-high resolution optical Earth Observation satellite. It is the highest-resolution fully private satellite in Europe, and one of the few commercial submetric satellites in the world. DEIMOS-2 provides a significant asset for users that require reliable global, flexible and rapid tasking and near real-time acquisition of very high resolution images.

Want to know more? Read the rest of the article after the jump.


NASA Computer Model Provides a New Portrait of Carbon Dioxide

An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe.

Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.

Source: NASA

Scientists have made ground-based measurements of carbon dioxide for decades and in July NASA launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite to make global, space-based carbon observations. But the simulation – the product of a new computer model that is among the highest-resolution ever created – is the first to show in such fine detail how carbon dioxide actually moves through the atmosphere.

Did this spike your interest? Be sure to check out the rest of the article here.


Satellite data warn against land slides

Lovers of architecture and history can rest easy: the stability of historical buildings can now be monitored in real time by a new technique with its roots in space.

In the past, if you feared the land beneath your house or road might be shifting, the only method was to install measuring devices, and wait – often for months – to find out.

Source: ESA Space Engineering & Technology

Today, landowners can determine whether or not they have a problem much faster, thanks to a company that taps into existing space data to trace changes over time.

Want to know more? Be sure to check out the article over on the ESA website.


STEREO researcher Eric Lambin is awarded the prestigious Volvo Environment Prize

On November 26th, Eric Lambin, professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain and Stanford University, received the Volvo Environment Prize. It is one of the most prestigious scientific awards in the environment and sustainable development field.

Professor Lambin received this honour due to his pioneering work, the study of the interactions between human activities and the environment by combining remote sensing with environmental and social sciences. His work was made possible with the support of several BELSPO research programmes: SSD (Science for sustainable development), PADD (Climate Change and Sustainable Development), BL (Bilateral research cooperation with China and Vietnam) and most notably in our field of work: the STEREO programmes and their predecessors TELSAT.

Want to know more? Be sure to check out the press release in French and Dutch.


New EARSeL Bureau

In June 2014, as part of the 34th EARSeL Symposium that took place in Warsaw, the EARSeL Council elected the new EARSeL Bureau for the forthcoming two years. Dr. Bogdan Zagajewski is the new Treasurer and our own Jean-Christophe SCHYNS, the National Representative of Belgium, is elected to the position of the Secretary General.

Dr. Klaus-Ulrich Komp, National Representative of Germany, is elected Vice-Chairman and Dr. Lena Halounová, former Vice-Chairman and the National Representative of Czech Republic is the newly elected Chairman of EARSeL.

Interested in the rest of the article? Be sure to check out the 99th EARSeL Newsletter (pdf).


Chinese scientist proposes new scientific satellites

A Chinese scientist has proposed a series of satellites to monitor "global change," or planetary-scale changes concerning the Earth.

Speaking at the ongoing Asia-Pacific Remote Sensing Symposium in Beijing, Guo Huadong, dean of the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, suggested six satellites to monitor global change as well as observation technology based on the moon.

Global change is a relatively new scientific area that developed after realization that climate change was only one part of a larger phenomenon. Global change researchers look at land, oceans, the atmosphere, natural planetary cycles and deep Earth processes as well as human society.

Interested in more? Be sure to check out the rest of the article!


NASA's ECOSTRESS Will Monitor Plant Health

A new space-based instrument to study how effectively plants use water is being developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The instrument, called the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), will monitor one of the most basic processes in living plants: the loss of water through the tiny pores in leaves.

Source: NASA

When people lose water through their pores, the process is called sweating. The related process in plants is known as transpiration. Because water that evaporates from soil around plants also affects the amount of water that plants can use, ECOSTRESS will measure combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration.

Did this spike your interest? You can read the rest of the article over on the NASA website.


BIRA coordinates Sentinel-5P validation campaign

As part of the preparations for the Sentinel-5 Precursor air-quality monitoring mission, scientists teamed up in Romania recently to test different airborne systems that will be used to ensure this new satellite delivers accurate measurements of pollutants in the air we breathe.

The World Health Organization estimates that around 3.7 million people died prematurely in 2012 as a result of being exposed to outdoor air pollution.

NO2 concentrations over Bucharest. Source: ESA

With air pollution now the world’s largest single environmental health risk, it has never been more important to monitor the air we breathe.

Want to know more about the validation campagne, coordinated by BIRA? Be sure to check out the article.


Copernicus operations secured until 2021

In a landmark agreement for Europe’s Copernicus programme, the European Commission and ESA have signed an Agreement of over €3 billion to manage and implement the Copernicus ‘space component’ between 2014 and 2021.

Source: ESA

The Multiannual Financial Framework is a seven-year plan for the EU’s budget that includes the provision of about €4.3 billion for the Copernicus environment monitoring programme for the period 2014–20.

Interested in more? Read the rest of the article over on the ESA website.


New UNESCO world heritage thanks to Belgian technology

Advanced geographic information systems (GIS) collect information necessary for the nomination of new world heritage sites in Calakmul (Mexico) and on the Silk Roads network (Central Asia).

The tropical rainforests around the sprawling Maya site of Calakmul (Mexico) was recognised as natural world heritage site at the UNESCO summit held in Qatar. Calakmul joined the select circle of places that can call themselves “mixed cultural and natural world heritage” sites. This new recognition was made possible thanks to an advanced information system for heritage sites, made in Belgium.

Mayan settlement of El Mirador

Uzbekistani mosque along Silk Road

Managers of major heritage sites are often faced with the same challenges: how do you efficiently manage the enormous amount of information about the site? How do you document how the site has evolved through time? What actions are necessary to ensure the preservation of the site?

To provide an answer to such questions, the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) concluded a cooperation contract with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. This agreement provided for a series of research and development projects geared to managing UNESCO heritage information better.

Want to know more about this Belgian feat? Be sure to check out the dedicated article on the GIM website.


Cheap (and free!) Pléiades images available through the Belgian Pléiades Archive

Belgian institutional users can order Pléiades images at vastly reduced prices through the Belgian Pléiades Archive. New purchases will be added to the Archive. After a delay of 3 months, these data will become available free of charge for all authorised users, along with all other data in the Archive.

A Pléiades image over Brussels. Check it out at full resolution here.

On top of that BELSPO, along with the National Geographic Institute (NGI) and the Flemish (AGIV), Wallonian (SPW) and Brussels (BRIC) regions, purchased a complete coverage of Belgium, taken during the second half of 2013, which is available free of charge to all authorised users as well.

Want to know more about this offer, or interested in becoming an authorised user? Then be sure to visit the dedicated website!


Belgian Earth Observation Day 2014

Save the date!

The next BEODay will take place in Lier on
20 November 2014.

The programme will include information on the revised STEREO III programme for earth observation research and the next calls for proposals.

More details will be available shortly!


Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches New Record Maximum

Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s. The upward trend in the Antarctic, however, is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.

Source: NASA

Interested in more? Be sure to check out the rest of the article!


First Copernicus satellite now operational

With the commissioning of Sentinel-1A completed and the satellite's transfer to the team in charge of its exploitation, its data are available as of today to all users.

This marks the beginning of the satellite's operational life, delivering radar coverage for an array of applications in the areas of oceans, ice, changing land and emergency response.

Interested in more? Read the rest of the article after the jump.


JPI Climate - Science Officer in the JPI Climate Central Secretariat

JPI-Climate  is a collaboration between 14 European countries to coordinate jointly their climate research and fund new transnational research initiatives.

Two job offers for scientific collaborators of the JPI Climate Central Secretariat has been published on the JPI Climate website:

Deadline for applications is 23th of October at midnight.

JPI Climate vacancies


JPI Climate - Junior Science Officer in the JPI Climate Central Secretariat (half time)

JPI-Climate  is a collaboration between 14 European countries to coordinate jointly their climate research and fund new transnational research initiatives.

Two job offers for scientific collaborators of the JPI Climate Central Secretariat has been published on the JPI Climate website:

Deadline for applications is 23th of October at midnight.

JPI Climate vacancies


Proba-V celebrates its 500 days

This morning, exactly 500 days ago, Vega VV02 lifted off from Kourou with on board the ProbaV satellite. Since then, the Vegetation Instrument is loyally delivering daily images of the entire earth’s globe.

For this 500 days birthday, the Proba-V team offers you an image of the Algerian Sand Dunes, and a comparison with an image of taken by a much bigger earth observation satellite, LandSat7…

Source: VITO

Interested in more? Be sure to check out the website!


Global carbon emissions reach new record high

Concentrations of carbon dioxide will surge to a new high in the atmosphere in 2014, scientists announced 21 September in advance of the U.N. Climate Summit in New York City. Global carbon dioxide emissions are projected to soar to 44 billion tons (40 billion metric tons) this year, a 2.5 percent increase from 2013.

Source: LiveScience

Read the rest of the article here.


The September 2014 issue of the Satellite Executive Briefing with IBC Preview


Snow Cover on Arctic Sea Ice Has Thinned 30 to 50 Percent

New research led by NASA and the University of Washington, Seattle, confirms that springtime snow on sea ice in the Arctic has thinned significantly in the last 50 years, by about a third in the Western Hemisphere and by half near Alaska.

Source: NASA

The new study, published this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research, tracks changes in snow depth over decades. It combines data from NASA’s Bromide, Ozone, and Mercury Experiment (BROMEX) field campaign, NASA’s Operation IceBridge flights, and instrumented buoys and ice floes staffed by Soviet scientists from the 1950s through the 1990s.

You can find the rest of the article after the jump.


Atlas 5 Rocket Lofts DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 Satellite

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on Aug. 13 successfully placed the WorldView-3 commercial high-resolution, multispectral Earth observation satellite into low Earth orbit in the 10th of 15 launch campaigns planned by ULA this year.

Source: SpaceNews

Operating from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, the Atlas 5 401 — the vehicle’s lightest version — placed the 2,810-kilogram WorldView-3 into a polar sun-synchronous orbit at about 629 kilometers in altitude.

DigitalGlobe subsequently announced the satellite’s successful deployment in orbit. WorldView-3 is designed to operate for at least 7.5 years.

Want to know more about the satellite? Be sure to click here.


First Super High-Res Public Imaging Satellite Set to Launch in August

A month ago, the US Government lifted restrictions on high-detail satellite images. Previously, these restrictions prohibited the capture of anything under 1.64 feet in size; now that they’re gone, a number of companies are anxious to launch their latest and greatest satellites and bring high res satellite imagery to the public for the very first time.

Source: PetaPixel

And the first to finish line is Lockheed Martin, whose DigitalGlobe‘s high-res WorldView-3 satellite, which was launched on August 13th 2014. The images sport a resolution of a mere 31 cm.

Want to know more? Be sure to check out the rest of the article.


SPOT-VEGETATION retires and hands over the torch to PROBA-V

On June 1st, 2014, after 16 years of faithful service in tracking the global vegetation status, the SPOT-VEGETATION mission will retire and hand over the torch to ESA’s Earth Watch satellite, PROBA-V. During 5911 days, the SPOT 4 and SPOT 5 satellites have been delivering global images on a daily basis, hereby providing essential information to study global vegetation change.
PROBA-V is an ESA owned satellite mission designed and built by a Belgian consortium, operated as part of ESA's Earth Observation Programme. The satellite platform was built by QinetiQ Space, Prime Contractor of the project. The sensor system was developed by OIP Sensor Systems, while VITO acted as Principal Investigator and developed the user segment, i.e. the processing chain.
From December 2013 till May 31, 2014 SPOT-VEGETATION and PROBA-V were operated simultaneously to ensure a smooth transition. This period of simultaneous imaging enabled VITO’s image processing centre to make the data from SPOT-VEGETATION and PROBA-V consistent. This is specifically important to study trends in land cover and climate change over extended periods of time.

The quality of the PROBA-V images is continuously monitored, and if necessary calibrated, in a semi-automated way to ensure the best possible radiometric and geometric quality. One year after the launch and after six months of operations we can proudly state that PROBA-V is in excellent condition and that the quality of the images even exceeds the expectations.

The SPOT-VEGETATION mission was a collaboration between France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and the EC. The VEGETATION instruments (VGT1 and VGT2) were incorporated in the SPOT programme, which was founded in 1978. SPOT 4 has been deactivated a couple of years ago. The VEGETATION sensor onboard SPOT 5 will stop its acquisitions on May 31, 2014.
For its entire mission lifetime, every day a new image of the global vegetation was processed, archived and distributed by VITO’s Image Processing Centre . From June 1, 2014 onwards VITO will continue this service together with PROBA-V.
More information on SPOT-VEGETATION and PROBA-V can be found on, and

To download PROBA-V images, please visit and


QinetiQ Space wins contract with ESA to develop International Berthing Docking Mechanism

Under the current contract phase, which will run until 2015, QinetiQ Space will develop and build an engineering model that it is intended to be tested on the ground. The contract is expected to lead to a follow-on development phase lasting until 2017.

Unlike current docking mechanisms, the IBDM absorbs relative movement and minimises the impact forces between two spacecraft while docking. This therefore reduces the solicitation of the spacecraft docking to the space station. This androgynous system will allow two vehicles to berth and dock with each other and ensure that there is an airtight connection between both spacecraft.

Commenting on the contract win, Erik Masure, Managing Director at QinetiQ Space, said: “Until now, docking mechanisms requiring a minimum level of energy for their actuation have been used and were designed for large vehicles such as the Space Shuttle. This has meant that the attachment of new generation lighter spacecraft to the ISS has had to take place at a fast speed for a connection to be created, which can lead to potential issues with high forces in play. Now, through the expertise and experience of QinetiQ Space, and the development of the IBDM soft docking system, an active control of the relative motion of the two spacecraft can be created, and therefore the forces caused by the attachment process are significantly reduced and the docking reliability increased”.

ESA has started a cooperation with the American aerospace company, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) which is developing the Dream Chaser, a small reusable spacecraft that is a candidate to transport astronauts to the ISS. The IBDM may potentially be used for attaching this new vehicle to the ISS in the future.


SPOT 7 successfully completes the replacement of its predecessors

Airbus Defence and Space has published the first images obtained from the SPOT 7 satellite, a mere three days after its launch on 30 June.

The entire chain - from satellite programming and image acquisition to telemetry reception and processing - was successfully put into operation to deliver these first spectacular images on 4 July 2014. These images show highly diverse landscapes, revealing SPOT 7's full potential in terms of natural resource and urban zone mapping and agri-environmental monitoring.

The SPOT 6/7 constellation is now in place and considerably improves the capabilities and performance offered by SPOT 5, which has been in operation since 2002 and which is scheduled to be decommissioned from commercial service during the first quarter of 2015. This new constellation offers a higher resolution, greater programming reactivity and a much higher volume of images acquired daily (in monoscopic or stereoscopic mode).


First launch under Belgian jurisdiction and first Belgium nanosatellites in space

The first Belgium nanosatellites were successfully deployed this night in low earth orbit (600km altitude). This launch of two nanosatellites is the first application of the Belgian space law adopted in 2005 and revised at the end of 2013. Thanks to this legal framework, Belgium can authorize and supervise satellite missions in full accordance with the international treaties,  the associated safety standards and the mitigation of space debris.

The embarked satellites are so called double CubeSats, having a  10 cm x 10 cm  x 20 cm volume with a mass of less than 2 kg. They have been designed, manufactured and tested by several partners: the von Karman Institute VKI (BE), ISIS – Innovative Solutions In Space (NL), Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UK), Technische Universitat Dresden (DE), Surrey Space Center (UK) and AMSAT (FR/NL).

The launch has been procured by the QB50 project, an EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) funded project. This launch mission, entrusted to ISIS, took place out of the base of Yasny in southern Russia, with a DNEPR  rocket at 21:11 (Belgian time). The nanosatellites currently flying around the Earth at a velocity of about 7,5 km per second are already transmitting scientific and technological data to ground stations all around the world.

This successful launch is the precursor flight ahead of the main QB50 mission. QB50 is a space project led by a consortium of 15 international partners. The project foresees to send in 2016 into a low earth orbit a set of 50 CubeSats. 45 of those CubeSats will form a constellation and will investigate the lower thermosphere, one of the layers more rarely investigated.  The remaining CubeSats will carry some technologies to be tested in orbit. Amongst them, the re-entry CubeSat of the von Karman Institute will be equipped with a thermal shield to allow the CubeSat to be saved during its reentry in the Earth atmosphere.

Philippe Courard, secretary of state for Science Policy, delivered his first mission launch authorization under Belgian jurisdiction. He expresses : “Belgium, the leader country in the space domain, has taken two new steps: Belgium took over responsibility of a mission launch and sent its first satellites into orbit.” He adds: “The Belgian Know-how in satellite development is widely recognized: for example, the PROBA satellites have been manufactured by the Belgian industry in the framework of the European Space Agency. The QB50 satellites were developed and launched under the jurisdiction of Belgium. This successful mission launch stresses the relevance of the investment made in the space research and innovation during the last 50 years. It’s a major event for our space policy.”

As the coordinator of the QB50 project, the von Karman Institute is very proud with this  unprecedented  precursor launch. 


40 cm Satellite Imagery Products Now Available

European Space Imaging is excited to announce we are now accepting orders for 40 cm DigitalGlobe Core Imagery products.  Using the existing order process, you can submit new orders for 40 cm resolution Standard and Advanced Ortho Series products.

We are offering 40 cm products at an introductory price; through Q3 2014, 40 cm products will be available at the same price as 50 cm products.  The WorldView Global Alliance will publish a new pricing guide in August to include our 40 cm Core Imagery product pricing, which will go into effect on October 1st, 2014.
ImageLibrary Availability:
40 cm archive imagery is available globally now. You can order a 40 cm product including imagery collected at any Ground Sample Distance (GSD) from GeoEye-1, WorldView-1, and WorldView-2, but not from IKONOS or QuickBird. The recommendation is not to resample imagery with a GSD greater than 49.9 cm to 40 cm, but it is allowed.  ImageFinder has been updated so you can search and filter on GSD to determine which orders would benefit from higher resolution deliveries.
New Collection Availability:
For this introductory period, 40 cm new collections are only as multi-satellite orders including GeoEye-1 and WorldView-2 and only available for these countries:
•             Algeria
•             Antarctica
•             Australia
•             Chad
•             Greenland
•             Libya
•             Mali
•             Mauritania
•             Morocco
•             New Zealand
•             Niger
•             South Africa
•             Tunisia
•             Western Sahara
 New collections will be available globally beginning in Q4 2014.
Delivery Timelines:
Most 40 cm product orders should fit the stated product delivery timelines, but longer timelines are possible due to the capacity required to process these larger files. We are not guaranteeing standard delivery timelines. Our Customer Support team will work with customers directly to communicate any delays in product delivery.

For more information or 40 cm data inquiries please contact your Sales Manager or our Customer Support Team.


Vlaamse Overheid steunt toekomst van imec, Vlaanderen en Europa

Het Leuvense nano-elektronica onderzoekscentrum imec maakte vandaag bekend dat de Vlaamse overheid, op initiatief van Minister Lieten, naast de eerder toegekende subsidie van ongeveer 30 miljoen euro, de bouw van zijn nieuwe clean room steunt met een investeringssteun van 50 miljoen euro. Deze beslissing kadert in de belofte van de Vlaamse overheid om in totaal 100 miljoen euro steun te bieden voor imec’s nieuwe clean room infrastructuur, een stof- en trillingsvrije ruimte waar onder nauwkeurig gecontroleerde omstandigheden de nieuwe generaties chips ontwikkeld worden. Hierdoor behoudt Vlaanderen de beste troeven om op wereldschaal tot de R&D-top te behoren op het gebied van nano-elektronica en nanotechnologie.


HeliosNet Selects Newtec to Offer B2C and B2B VSAT Services over Eastern Russia

Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC) Express-AM5 satellite will be used to enable high speed and competitive broadband connectivity across Eastern Russia
MOSCOW, Russia and SINT-NIKLAAS, Belgium, May 19 2014. Satellite communications specialist Newtec has been selected by HeliosNet® to power their new B2B and B2C VSAT broadband service over Eastern Russia.
The new HeliosNet service will be offered using RSCC’s new Express-AM5 satellite, launched in December 2013. Newtec will install a broadband system, including its satellite broadband hub (see image below, left) and thousands of terminals (MDM2200 and MDM3100 IP satellite modems (see image below, mid and right)), enabling reliable and easy-to-install low and high speed B2C and B2B services.
The Newtec broadband hub will be installed in Irkutsk, Eastern Siberia region of Russia, and will upgrade HeliosNet’s current broadband infrastructure.
Alexey Sergeev, General Director of HeliosNet, said: “We are delighted to partner with Newtec which has a proven track record in reliability and customer service. We selected Newtec’s VSAT technology for our new satellite broadband service after being impressed by the ease of use, the bandwidth efficiency and the price attractiveness of the end-user terminals. This means we can provide an attractive service pricing without jeopardizing the quality.”
In 2012 Newtec started shipping its latest high-speed VSAT broadband technology. This new technology has already been successfully implemented by an increasing number of Tier 1 satellite and VSAT service providers worldwide. HeliosNet has worked in partnership with one of those providers before and was able to draw on previous experience to understand the advantages and capabilities of Newtec’s VSAT technology.
While the HeliosNet service will initially utilize Ku-band, the terminals can be easily upgraded later to operate in Ka-band by a simple change of Newtec’s interactive LNB and with no hardware adaptation to the satellite modem or the antenna.
Serge Van Herck, CEO of Newtec, said: “We are proud that we can help HeliosNet offer market leading satellite broadband services at a very competitive price point both for the professional and the consumer markets. As broadband capacity becomes available over a wider geographic area the Russian VSAT broadband market is experiencing a real boost and we are pleased to be playing a key part in that.”
For more information about the challenges solved by consumer and business VSAT solutions, visit

Kerstin Roost
Public Relations Director
Tel: +49 30 430 95 562

Anna Tugolukova
Head of marketing department
Tel: +7 499 504 9 504


Elecnor Deimos publishes first images of the DEIMOS-2 satellite

After its successful launch at 21:11 CET on 19 June, the process of setting up the DEIMOS-2 satellite has progressed smoothly.

The satellite started taking shots only 12 hours after its launch, and has continued to do so over the last five days. The first images taken by the satellite are of the North American city, San Francisco, and of Qatar's capital city, Doha, showing its avenues and the development that will be built there for the 2022 World Cup.

Some of these images are attached and show the ultra-high quality and definition offered in each of them. More shots will be published as they become available over the coming hours and days...

Elecnor 67


Stadiums from the FIFA World Cup 2014

For all you soccer lovers out there, feast your eyes with these gorgeous satellite images of the stadiums that will be used during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The images were taken by the Pléiades Satellites, the development of which was partly funded by Belgium.

Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro. Source: Airbus Defence & Space


Sentinel-1 aids Balkan flood relief

lthough not yet operational, the new Sentinel-1A satellite has provided radar data for mapping the floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Heavy rainfall leading to widespread flooding and landslides has hit large parts of the Balkans, killing dozens of people and leaving hundreds of thousands displaced.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Jan Kucera of the Europan Commission’s Joint Research Centre is supervising the technical aspect of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS). While mapping the flooding in northeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, ESA delivered a radar scan from Sentinel-1A: “I had a first look and discovered that we were missing an important flooded area visible in the middle of the image.”

Did this spike your interest? Be sure to read the rest of the article over at the ESA website.


Thermal monitoring of volcanic activity from space

Data from the Meteosat satellite has been used to measure the temperature of lava at a remote volcano in Africa.

The scientists compared data from the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI) on board Meteosat with ground data from a thermal camera, to show the temperature of the lava lake at Nyiragongo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The technique was pioneered in Europe, and the researchers say it could be used to help monitor volcanoes in remote places all over the world.


Interested? Read the rest of the article over at the EUMETSAT website.


Water mission boosts food security

ESA’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission has gone beyond its original scientific brief of delivering critical information for understanding the water cycle – this versatile satellite is now being used to predict drought and improve crop yield in regions prone to famine.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

The US Department of Agriculture use satellite images and soil moisture data to help identify abnormal weather that may affect the production and yield of crops. Using this information, they publish monthly estimates of world production, supply and distribution.

Read the rest of the article over at ESA.


Japanese craft launched with night-vision mapping radar

A Japanese satellite equipped with a sharp-eyed synthetic aperture radar launched Saturday on a mission to map the globe every two weeks, helping authorities respond to natural disasters, track agricultural yields and monitor shipping lanes.

Source: Spaceflight Now

Interested in more? Read the rest of the article here.


SPOT-VEGETATION retires and hands over the torch to PROBA-V

On June 1st, 2014, after 16 years of faithful service in tracking the global vegetation status, the SPOT-VEGETATION mission will retire and hand over the torch to ESA’s Earth Watch satellite, PROBA-V. During 5911 days, the SPOT 4 and SPOT 5 satellites have been delivering global images on a daily basis, hereby providing essential information to study global vegetation change.

PROBA-V is an ESA owned satellite mission designed and built by a Belgian consortium, operated as part of ESA's Earth Observation Programme. The satellite platform was built by QinetiQ Space, Prime Contractor of the project. The sensor system was developed by OIP Sensor Systems, while VITO acted as Principal Investigator and developed the user segment, i.e. the processing chain.

Want to know more? Be sure to check out the dedicated website.


NPP Designated Primary U.S. Polar Weather Satellite

Suomi NPP, the NASA testbed satellite pressed into duty as the first operational component of the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System following its 2011, launch is now the United States’ primary polar-orbiting weather satellite, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced May 1.

Source: SpaceNews

The designation gives Suomi-NPP operational priority over other satellites in the U.S. weather-forecasting constellation managed by NOAA, the agency said in an online post.  Suomi-NPP replaces the still-in-service NOAA-19 as the primary U.S. polar-orbiter, NOAA said.

Want to know more? You can find out all about it after the jump.


Kazakhstan First Earth Observation Satellite to Orbit

Arianespace is on track for a record launch performance in 2014 following tonight’s Vega mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana, which successfully orbited a pioneering Earth observation satellite for the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Lifting off from the SLV launch site at 10:35:15 p.m. local time – which was the planned precise moment of launch – Vega was put through its paces to loft DZZ-HR, renamed “KazEOSat-1” after reaching Sun-synchronous orbit, during a flight lasting 55 minutes.

Source: Arianespace

If you want to read the rest of the article, be sure to click here.


PROBA-V, celebrating one year in space!

06/05/2013: a day we will never forget! At 23:06 local time in Kourou, French Guinea the small satellite PROBA-V was successfully launched by ESA’s VEGA launcher and put into orbit exactly as planned.  Now, one year later we look back at the successful launch and the past 12 months in which PROBA-V started its operational phase.

Want to read more about PROBA-V? You can find out all about it after the jump.


Research sheds new light on global warming trends

New research by a team of Florida State University scientists shows the first detailed look at global land surface warming trends over the last 100 years, illustrating precisely when and where different areas of the world started to warm up or cool down.
The research indicates that the world is indeed getting warmer, but historical records show that it hasn't happened everywhere at the same rate.
And that new information even took scientists by surprise.
"Global warming was not as understood as we thought," said Zhaohua Wu, an assistant professor of meteorology at FSU.

Interested? Read the rest of the article here.


France Maneuvers Intel Satellite To Avoid Dead Weather Spacecraft

One of four French electronic-intelligence satellites flying in formation in low Earth orbit was forced to perform a collision-avoidance maneuver after U.S. and French space-tracking radars determined that it was on a collision course with a large piece of orbital debris, the French air force said.

The satellite that had to be moved is one of four identical 120-kilogram Elisa demonstrator satellites launched into a 694-kilometer low Earth orbit in December 2011.

Curious? Read the rest of the article over at SpaceNews.


Kenya to deploy drones in all national parks in bid to tackle poaching

Kenya is to deploy drones in all of its 52 national parks and reserves in a bid to monitor and stop the poaching of elephants and rhinos.

Source: The Guardian

The move by the government follows a successful pilot project in major protected wildlife area, that saw drones reduce poaching by up to 96%.

Kenya has lost more than 435 elephants and around 400 rhinos to poachers since 2012, driven by demand for illegal wildlife products in Asia and elsewhere. Poachers have killed 18 rhinos and 51 elephants in 2014 so far.

Want to know more? Be sure to click here.


Sentinel-3 Stacks Up

Over the last year, engineers have been carefully testing and piecing together the multitude of components that make up Sentinel-3. The recent arrival of the infrared radiometer is a milestone in the exacting process of building this upcoming Copernicus mission.

Source: ESA

The Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer, or SLSTR, just delivered to Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, is one of the main instruments carried on Sentinel-3. As its name suggests, this new sensor will map the surface temperature of Earth’s land and oceans.

Drawing on sound heritage from Envisat’s Along Track Scanning Radiometer, this improved instrument will provide Copernicus users with timely and accurate information for maritime safety, weather services and climate monitoring. Developed by Selex ES in Italy, it also includes novel detectors for monitoring wildfires.

Want to know more? Read the rest of the article here.


Copernicus Masters

Since 2011, the annual Copernicus Masters competition is awarding prizes to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data.

With the launch of Sentinel-1A in April 2014, a new era is set to begin for applications in the entire geospatial value chain. It is the first of the new fleet of ESA Earth observation satellites, which are poised to deliver the wealth of data and imagery that are at the core of Europe's flagship programme Copernicus. The Earth monitoring competition Copernicus Masters aims to support the development of market-oriented applications based on Earth observation data. In 2014, for the first time, the Copernicus Masters is carried out worldwide. It includes exciting topic specific Challenges that are being awarded by an array of prominent partners, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), European Space Imaging GmbH & Skybox Imaging Inc., CloudEO AG, Airbus Defence and Space & Hisdesat S.A., and Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd.

Want to know more? Then be sure to click here!


France to make older Spot images available to researchers for free

The French government has agreed to open its Spot optical Earth observation data archive and distribute, free of charge to noncommercial users, Spot satellite data that are at least five years old.

Source: SpaceNews

The 23 January announcement by the French space agency, CNES, followed a French government commitment made 17 January during a meeting in Geneva of the 80 governments that comprise the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

CNES said its decision was made in concert with Airbus Defence and Space, formerly named Astrium Services, which since 2008 has been the majority shareholder in the company that commercialises Spot data.

CNES said the move to open up access to Spot imagery, which dates from 1986, "is the first major contribution from the private sector to the construction of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)."

Read the rest of the article here.


NASA Set for a Big Year in Earth Science with Five New Missions

For the first time in more than a decade, five NASA Earth science missions will be launched into space in the same year, opening new and improved remote eyes to monitor our changing planet.

Source: NASA News

The five launches, including two to the International Space Station (ISS), are part of an active year for NASA Earth science researchers, who also will conduct airborne campaigns to the poles and hurricanes, develop advanced sensor technologies, and use satellite data and analytical tools to improve natural hazard and climate change preparedness.

Want to read the rest of the article? Be sure to click here.


CryoSat detects hidden Antarctic pattern

Near the centre of Antarctica, measurements from CryoSat show an unusual pattern in the ice sheet's elevation. Scientists have now found the reason for this pattern - and the discovery is leading to even more accurate measurements from ESA's ice mission.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

CryoSat carries a radar altimeter that can 'see' through clouds and in the dark, providing continuous measurements over areas like central Antarctica that are prone to bad weather and long periods of darkness.

The radar measures the surface height variation of ice by timing the interval between the transmission and reception of very short radar pulses as the satellite orbits Earth.

Find the rest of the article After the jump.


STEREO III programme has officially been launched!

To execute the decision of the Council of Ministers on 15 November 2012 concerning the implementation of the Belgian space strategy, the State Secretary for Science Policy approved the STEREO III programme on 19 September 2013. Just last week the first call was published in the Belgian Official Journal.


GOCE, the Ferrari of Space caught on camera one last time as it plunges to earth

The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) began its rapid descent last week - sparking worries it would hit land mass. Most of the fragments were however expected to burn out in the atmosphere.

Photographer Bill Chater managed to capture the scene as the remains of the satellite shot across the sky over the Falkland Islands:

Source: Mirror News

GOCE had been mapping the Earth's gravitational field for the last four years, which is important for understanding changing sea levels.

The satellite's plunge was monitored with tracking systems, and it is estimated that about 45 pieces of debris, each weighing no more than 200lbs, will have survived the fiery plunge, most likely falling into the ocean.

The uncontrolled descent was the first of its kind in almost 25 years for the European Space Agency.


Herding from Space

Satellites see defined lines of nomadic pastoralism in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Landlocked in western Africa, Niger is one of the world’s poorest nations. With less than 4% of the country’s land arable and prone to drought, food security is a major concern for the population of over 17 million.

Livestock production is important to the agricultural gross domestic product, with widespread nomadic pastoralism. Livestock trade is organised through strong traditional networks, with most animal sales taking place in local markets, but nomadic herders continuously move depending on water and food availability.

Animal crossings in Niger. Source: ESA Observing the Earth

In southern Niger’s Aguie Department, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been working to ensure food security and support small-scale rural producers.

Interested in more? You can find the rest of the article here.


Magnetic Field Mission SWARM Fuelled for Launch

With launch just a month away, ESA’s Swarm constellation has been fuelled. Engineers will soon be focusing on the careful task of attaching the three identical satellites to the upper stage of the rocket for simultaneous release into orbit around Earth.

The Swarm satellites and all the equipment needed to prepare them for liftoff arrived at the Plesetsk launch complex in Russia just over three weeks ago. The cargo plane made three round trips to transport the whole shipment amounting to about 60 tonnes from Munich, Germany.

Since their safe arrival, the three satellites have been unpacked, have undergone various tests to make sure their components work as they should, and have been fuelled with Freon 14 and tested for leaks.

Swarm constellation. Source: ESA Observing the Earth

You can read the rest of the article here.


Global warming will increase intensity of El Nino, scientists say

Scientists say they are more certain than ever about the impact of global warming on a critical weather pattern.

Source: BBC News, Science and Environment

The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) occurs in the Pacific Ocean but plays an important part in the world's climate system. Researchers have until now been unsure as to how rising temperatures would affect ENSO in the future. But this new study suggests that droughts and floods driven by ENSO will be more intense. The ENSO phenomenon plays a complicated role in the global weather system. The El Nino part of the equation sees a warming of the eastern and tropical Pacific, while its cooler sister, La Nina, makes things chillier in these same regions.

Did this spike your interest? Then be sure to check out the rest of the article.


IPCC climate report: humans dominant cause of warming

A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s.

The report by the UN's climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change.

On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is "unequivocal", it explained. It adds that a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends.

Read the rest of the article on the BBC News website.


Arctic sea ice shrinks to sixth-lowest extent on record

Sea ice cover in the Arctic has shrunk to one of its smallest extents on record, bringing the days of an entirely ice-free Arctic during the summer a step closer.

The annual sea ice minimum of 5,099m sq km reached last Friday was not as extreme as last year, when the collapse of ice cover broke all previous records.

Source: The Guardian

Did this tickle your curiousity? Then check out the rest of the article here.


Supermodel Goce satellite to fall to Earth

The European Space Agency (Esa) is preparing for the fiery fall to Earth of its Goce gravity-mapping satellite.

The sleek spacecraft is flying just 224km above the planet, but its special electric engine that maintains this altitude is about to run out of fuel. Current estimates suggest this could occur anytime between the end of this month and the start of November. When it does, the one-tonne Goce will plunge rapidly through the atmosphere, burning up as it descends.
"Some satellites take decades to come back after finishing operations; we will re-enter in no more than three weeks," says Esa mission manager Dr Rune Floberghagen.

Source: BBC Science & Environment

Interested in more? Be sure to check out the rest of the article.


The Global Toll of Fine Particulate Matter

Occasionally, short-term meteorological conditions merge with ongoing human emissions to produce extreme outbreaks of air pollution. In January 2013, a blanket of industrial pollution enveloped northeastern China. In June 2013, smoke from agricultural fires in Sumatra engulfed Singapore.

In most cases, the most toxic pollution lingers for a few days or even weeks, bringing increases in respiratory and cardiac health problems at hospitals. Eventually the weather breaks, the air clears, and memories of foul air begin to fade. But that’s not to say that the health risks disappear as well. Even slightly elevated levels of air pollution can have a significant effect on human health. Over long periods and on a global scale, such impacts can add up.

But exactly how much exposure to air pollution do people around the world get? And how much health damage is it causing? Since there are gaps in networks of ground sensors, University of North Carolina earth scientist Jason West is leading an effort to answer those questions using computer models that simulate the atmosphere.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Read the rest of the article here.


Preparing to launch Swarm

With the launch of ESA’s Swarm trio set for 14 November, the first satellite has arrived safely at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. This new mission will unravel one of the most mysterious aspects of our planet: the magnetic field.

The arrival marks the beginning of the ‘launch campaign’, which includes an intensive period of tests to make sure that the satellites are fit for launch after their journey from Germany to Russia.

Swarm arrives in Plesetsk. Source: ESA

The campaign also includes the careful task of fuelling the satellites and attaching them to the rocket that will deliver them into orbit. The remaining two satellites will arrive in the next couple of days, the second later today and the third at the weekend. All three will be launched together on a single Rockot.

Read the rest of the article here.


Game of drones - Belgian remote sensing scientist interviewed on improper use of drones

Drones are all the rage. Weeks ago one was taken down over the royal domain of Fenffe in the Belgian province of Namur, a camera drone operated by a photographer of the Sudpress newspaper group. And only yesterday a camera drone crashed a mere two meters away from the podium where Angela Merkel was giving a speech.

The question that's really keeping us, remote sensing people, awake at night is the following: what would be the legal framework of remotely controlled camera's for aerial photography? Or for the more naughty ones: can I use a drone to take pictures of my sunbathing neighbour?

If you want to know the answer to these questions, be sure to check out the interview with Koen Meuleman, organized by the Belgian Radio 1.


Wildfires projected to worsen with climate change

Harvard model predicts wildfire seasons by 2050 will be three weeks longer, up to twice as smoky, and will burn a wider area in the western United States

Research by environmental scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) brings bad news to the western United States, where firefighters are currently battling dozens of fires in at least 11 states.

The Harvard team’s study suggests wildfire seasons by 2050 will be about three weeks longer, up to twice as smoky, and will burn a wider area in the western states. The findings are based on a set of internationally recognized climate scenarios, decades of historical meteorological data, and records of past fire activity.

The results will be published in the October 2013 issue of Atmospheric Environment and are available in advance online.

Want to know more? Be sure to check out the Environmental Research Website.


Iceland Signs Accession Agreement with EUMETSAT

Iceland is on its way to becoming a EUMETSAT Member State in 2014 following the signature of the accession agreement by EUMETSAT Director-General Alain Ratier and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources of Iceland on 30 August.


Read more about it here.


TerraSAR-X: overdue but still going strong

Officially, the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X should have been out of service for over a year and a half – that's how long it has exceeded its intended lifespan. But engineers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have switched the satellite, which was launched to space on 15 June 2007, to yet another mode: TerraSAR-X can now record image strips over 200 kilometres wide. "The satellite does so by sweeping this large area in multiple stages, very quickly pivoting the radar beam numerous times across the direction of flight," explains DLR mission manager Stefan Buckreuss. For example, the image of the German Bight shows the Frisian Islands from Borkum to Wangerooge and cities such as Wilhelmshaven and Bremen. This new ‘wide-angle’ mode is of particular interest to oceanographers, who will be able to use it to investigate the tidal range, changes to mudflats, shipping movements, wave patterns, ice floes and wind levels.

Curious for more? Be sure to click here.


INSAT-3D: India Advanced Weather Satellite Inches Closer to Final Orbit

India's advanced weather satellite INSAT-3D, which was launched successfully on 26 July, has reached an intermediate orbit. The satellite is inching closer to the 36,000 km high geostationary orbit, which is its final orbit.

The meteorological satellite, carrying advanced weather monitoring payloads, was launched by European launch vehicle Ariane-5 VA-214 in the early hours of Friday from Kourou, French Guiana.

After travelling for 32 minutes and 48 seconds, the satellite with a lift-off mass of 2060 kg was placed in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) with a perigee (nearest point to earth) of 250 km and an apogee (farthest point to earth) of 35,923 km. As soon as it was injected into the GTO, the satellite's solar panel was deployed. The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan, Karnataka, took over the control of the satellite.

Interested? Find out all about it after the jump.


Disappearance of Coral Reefs, Drastically Altered Marine Food Web On the Horizon

If history's closest analog is any indication, the look of the oceans will change drastically in the future as the coming greenhouse world alters marine food webs and gives certain species advantages over others.

Source: ScienceDaily

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, paleobiologist Richard Norris and colleagues show that the ancient greenhouse world had few large reefs, a poorly oxygenated ocean, tropical surface waters like a hot tub, and food webs that did not sustain the abundance of large sharks, whales, seabirds, and seals of the modern ocean. Aspects of this greenhouse ocean could reappear in the future if greenhouse gases continue to rise at current accelerating rates.

The researchers base their projections on what is known about the "greenhouse world" of 50 million years ago when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were much higher than those that have been present during human history. Their review article appears in an Aug. 2 special edition of the journal Science titled "Natural Systems in Changing Climates."

Interested? Read the rest of the article here.


Seeing Which Way the Wind Blows: New Doppler Radar Takes Flight on This Summer HS3 Mission

Most aircraft carrying Doppler radar look like they’ve grown a tail, developed a dorsal fin, or sprouted a giant pancake on their backs. But when the unmanned Global Hawk carries a radar system this summer, its cargo will be hard to see. The autonomous and compact High-altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Profiler, or HIWRAP, a dual-frequency conical-scanning Doppler radar, will hang under the aircraft’s belly as it flies above hurricanes to measure wind and rain and to test a new method for retrieving wind data.

HIWRAP is one of the instruments that will fly in this summer's mission to explore Atlantic Ocean hurricanes. NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, airborne mission will investigate tropical cyclones using a number of instruments and two Global Hawks. The HS3 mission will operate between Aug. 20 and Sept. 23.

Source: NASA

"Radar is an important remote sensor for atmospheric research," said Lihua Li, an engineer who helped develop HIWRAP at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Radar signals penetrate clouds and precipitation, allowing scientists to detect information on raindrops or ice particles." That information, he said, is one piece of the puzzle toward improving scientists' understanding of weather events.

Read more after the jump.


Using Satellite Observations of Clouds to Improve Weather Forecasts

Clouds play a crucial role in regulating the Earth's weather and climate. They adjust the amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth's surface and affect the surface temperature and moisture. The processes involved in cloud formation also influence large-scale atmospheric circulation and can lead to rapid storm intensification. To accurately forecast the evolving state of the atmosphere, it is important that meteorologists are able to realistically simulate cloud information in weather prediction models.

However, due to their complexity, the evolution of clouds and their interactions with the surrounding atmosphere are often poorly understood by atmospheric scientists, and thus remain a major source of uncertainty in weather forecast models.

Source: SSEC

One of the first scientists interested in clarifying these uncertainties using satellite observations is Jason Otkin, an atmospheric scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After devoting many years to studying cloud properties and evolution processes using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, he is working to improve the way the WRF model handles clouds. More accurate depictions of clouds will improve forecasts of high-impact weather events.

Want to know more? Be sure to click here.


Seeing Photosynthesis from Space: NASA Scientists Use Satellites to Measure Plant Health

NASA scientists have established a new way to use satellites to measure what's occurring inside plants at a cellular level.
Plants grow and thrive through photosynthesis, a process that converts sunlight into energy. During photosynthesis, plants emit what is called fluorescence – light invisible to the naked eye but detectable by satellites orbiting hundreds of miles above Earth. NASA scientists have now established a method to turn this satellite data into global maps of the subtle phenomenon in more detail than ever before.

Want to read more about it? Be sure to check out the rest of the story.


India Advanced Weather Satellite INSAT-3D Successfully Launched

India's Weather Satellite INSAT-3D, carrying advanced weather monitoring payloads, was launched successfully in the early hours of July 26, 2013 by the Ariane-5 (VA214) launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana.


After a smooth countdown lasting 11 hours and 30 minutes, the Ariane-5 launch vehicle lifted off right on schedule at the opening of the launch window at 01:24 hours IST today. After a flight of 32 minutes and 48 seconds, INSAT-3D was placed in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), very close to the intended one.

More information on the satellite can be found here.

If you want to read the whole article on the launch, head to the ISRO website for more information.


Watching Wetlands from Space

The use of satellite data to monitor wetlands for sustainable water management is growing. Following promising results from monitoring efforts in the Mediterranean, ESA is working with African partners to expand its GlobWetland project even further.

In the heart of Jordan’s eastern desert, an oasis of marshland and natural water collection makes up the Azraq wetland.

The wetland and adjacent mudflat were recognised in 1977 as an important station for migratory birds by the Ramsar Convention – an intergovernmental treaty for the sustainable use of wetlands.

Source: ESA

Over the years, the extraction of water for drinking and irrigation significantly reduced the Azraq’s ground water levels. Between 1975 and 2005, the wetland area diminished by about 23 sq km while irrigated areas increased by almost 14 sq km, as observed through ESA’s GlobWetland II project.

Read more after the jump.


MAMUD article featured on Earthzine website

A recently concluded research project called MAMUD investigated how high and moderate resolution satellite imagery can be used for mapping and modeling urban growth and its impact on the hydrology of the urban and suburban environment. The paper focuses on research methods, major findings, and work carried out on the Greater Dublin Area in Ireland.

The announcement can be found on the Earthzine website.
If you're interested in the full article, be sure to check it out here.


The Color of the Ocean: the SABIA-Mar Mission

Remote sensing of ocean color is a currently well-established science that provides information about water composition and the depth of light penetration based on the ocean color, as seen from space. Ocean color satellites are part of an Earth observing system and, due to its importance in understanding the state of the ocean and its evolution, the international scientific community has agreed to joint efforts to keep a constant constellation of ocean color satellites orbiting our planet.

Source: Astrobiology Magazine

Read more after the jump.


European Space Imaging’s optical satellite services help keep the seas safe and clean

European Union agencies and member states tasked with monitoring Europe’s waters can now receive optical satellite imagery within one hour of collection using the near real-time delivery services of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

Interested? Continue reading here.


CryoSat maps largest-ever flood beneath Antarctica

ESA's CryoSat satellite has found a vast crater in Antarctica's icy surface. Scientists believe the crater was left behind when a lake lying under about 3 km of ice suddenly drained.

Far below the thick ice sheet that covers Antarctica, there are lakes of fresh water without a direct connection to the ocean. These lakes are of great interest to scientists who are trying to understand water transport and ice dynamics beneath the frozen Antarctic surface - but this information is not easy to obtain.

Source: ESA

One method is to drill holes through kilometres of ice to the water - a difficult endeavour in the harsh conditions of the polar regions. But instead of looking down towards the ice, a team of European scientists is looking to the sky to improve our understanding of subglacial water and its transport.

For more information click here.


Jason-1 Ocean Satellite Takes Final Bow

The curtain has come down on a superstar of the satellite oceanography world that played the "Great Blue Way" of the world's ocean for 11-1/2 years. The successful joint NASA and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Jason-1 ocean altimetry satellite was decommissioned this week following the loss of its last remaining transmitter.

Source: NASA

Want to know more? Be sure to check out this article.


NASA Celebrates Anniversary Of Seasat Mission

Even if they don’t last long, history tends to look fondly upon trailblazers.

Thirty-five years ago this week, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) launched an experimental satellite called Seasat, with the mission to study Earth and its seas. An unexpected malfunction ended the mission after just 106 days, leading some to look on the satellite as a failure. Seasat is still in orbit, however, shining in the night sky at magnitude 4.0 and continuing to live on through the many Earth and space observation missions it spawned.

Read more after the jump.

Source: redOrbit


Earth Northern Biomass Mapped and Measured

The biomass of the northern hemisphere’s forests has been mapped with greater precision than ever before thanks to satellites, improving our understanding of the carbon cycle and our prediction of Earth’s future climate.

Read more here.

Source: ESA


New Maps Show How Shipping Noise Spans the Globe

The ocean is naturally filled with the sounds of breaking waves, cracking ice, driving rain, and marine animal calls, but more and more, human activity is adding to the noise. Ships' propellers create low-frequency hums that can travel hundreds of kilometers or more in the deep ocean. Scientists have now modeled this shipping noise on a global scale.

Source: ScienceDaily

Want to know more? Be sure to check out this website.


New Public Application of Landsat Images Released

Google released more than a quarter-century of images of Earth taken from space Thursday compiled into an interactive time-lapse experience. Working with data from the Landsat Program managed by the U.S. Geological Survey, the images display an historical perspective on changes to Earth's surface over time.

More information can be found after the jump.


New Animation Marks Arrival of NASA LDCM Satellite to its Final Orbit

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to watch the world fly by beneath you from space? That dream is elusive for most of us, but the Landsat Data Continuity Mission offers a vicarious flight with a crisper view than our eyes alone would be capable of if we were in space. That view is now available in a new NASA animation.

After two months of on-orbit testing and calibration, LDCM fired its propulsion system on April 12, 2013, and ascended to its final orbit 438 miles (705 km) above Earth. The animation, made from scenes taken a week later on April 19, allows viewers to fly with the satellite from its final operating orbit.

A 15-minute animation shows 56 Landsat scenes that have been stitched together into a seamless view from Russia to South Africa. The animation was produced at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Find the animation and more information about it here.


ESA next Earth Explorer satellite Will Map The Tropics

ESA’s Earth Observation Programme Board has selected ‘Biomass’ to become the seventh Earth Explorer mission. The innovative satellite aims to map and monitor one of Earth’s most precious resources.

Following the review of three candidate concepts at the Board’s meeting today, the Biomass mission concept is set to become the next in a series of satellites developed to further our understanding of Earth.

The satellite will be designed to provide, for the first time from space, P-band radar measurements that are optimised to determine the amount of biomass and carbon stored in the world’s forests with greater accuracy than ever before.

More information? Click here.


Proba-V opens its eyes

Earth watcher Proba-V is in good health following its launch last week. The Vegetation imager has been switched on and the first image has been captured over western France.

Source: ESA

The miniature satellite is designed to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire planet every two days. The data can be used for alerting authorities to crop failures or monitoring the spread of deserts and deforestation.

The satellite’s vegetation imager was switched on Wednesday in time to get a glimpse of France’s coast along the Bay of Biscay and the lush interior. The data were then sent down to ESA’s Redu centre in Belgium.

Launched by a Vega rocket from French Guiana in the early hours of 7 May along with two other satellites, Proba-V was the first of the three passengers to be deployed into its Sun-synchronous near-polar orbit at 820 km altitude, just 55 minutes after launch.

Read more about after the jump.


Landsat Thermal Sensor Lights Up from Volcano s Heat

As the Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite flew over Indonesia's Flores Sea April 29, it captured an image of Paluweh volcano spewing ash into the air. The satellite's Operational Land Imager detected the white cloud of smoke and ash drifting northwest, over the green forests of the island and the blue waters of the tropical sea. The Thermal Infrared Sensor on LDCM picked up even more.

Source: NASA

By imaging the heat emanating from the 5-mile-wide volcanic island, TIRS revealed a hot spot at the top of the volcano where lava has been oozing in recent months.

Care to read the rest of the story? Click here.


Copernicus and Earth Observation’s Potential for the EU Environment

“Environmental policy making depends on timely, accurate information about the state of our planet and predictions about its future.” With this sentence, the European Union’s Science for Environment Policy Future Brief sketches the vast importance of Earth observation programs like the EU-led initiative, Copernicus (previously known as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, or GMES).

The Sentinel-3 satellite is being developed by ESA for the Copernicus program. Source: Earthzine

Copernicus aims to produce data to be used by national and local EU authorities for monitoring, modeling, forecasting and reporting while at the same time contributing to key EU-led initiatives like Resource-Efficient Europe, EU Environment Action Programme 2020, SEIS and INSPIRE. Copernicus is a joint effort with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is developing five new missions called Sentinels specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus program. The Sentinel missions, to be launched this year, are based on a constellation of two satellites to fulfill revisit and coverage requirements, providing robust datasets for Copernicus Services. These missions carry a range of technologies, such as radar and multi-spectral imaging instruments for land, ocean and atmospheric monitoring.

Read more about it here.


Taking Two Bites at Ocean Salinity

The saltiness of the oceans is being closely monitored from space by both ESA’s SMOS and NASA’s Aquarius missions, but in slightly different ways. By joining forces, researchers are exploiting these complementary missions to benefit climate science even further.

Everyone knows that seawater is salty, but it isn’t that obvious that the concentration of salt – the salinity – of the surface waters of the world’s oceans varies considerably with location and season.

Source: ESA

Salinity is controlled largely by the balance between evaporation and precipitation, so it is an important component of Earth’s water cycle and closely coupled to weather and climate. It is also an important driver in ocean circulation, which in turn, is crucial in moderating the climate.

In fact, ocean salinity is an 'essential climate variable' – a key parameter of climate change.

Read more after the jump.


Proba-V is seated for flight

ESA’s Proba-V vegetation-mapping minisatellite has been fitted to the payload adapter and met its fellow passengers for its 2 May flight to orbit on a Vega launcher.

Last week, technicians attached Proba-V to the top of the Vespa adapter, which carries multiple payloads on a single Vega.

The other two satellites flying with Proba-V have now been installed inside Vespa: Vietnam’s VNREDSat Earth observation mission and Estonia’s ESTCube-1 student nanosatellite, to test electric solar sail technology.

Proba-V will be the first of the three satellites to be deployed from the Vega’s AVUM upper stage.

Source: ESA

Less than a cubic metre in volume, Proba-V is a miniaturised ESA satellite tasked with a full-scale mission: to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire planet every two days.

Read the rest of the article here.


Kazakhstan to launch first remote sensing satellite by yearend

The Kazakh space agency said Wednesday that it plans to launch the country's first Earth remote sensing satellite by the end of this year.

"The launch of the first medium-resolution remote sensing satellite is planned for the 4th quarter of 2013" from Russia's Yasny Cosmodrome, the press service of KazCosmos said in a press release.

Kazakhstan's remote sensing system includes two optoelectronic satellites, and the cost will be about 260 million euros (about 341 million U.S. dollars), according to the agency.

The second, high-resolution remote sensing satellite is planned to be launched in 2014 from the Guiana Space Center, a French spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana, said KazCosmos.

Astrium, a Paris-based aerospace subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, is a strategic partner in the Kazakh remote sensing program.

Source: Xinhuanet


Pléiades-1B data now available in GeoStore

Following its successful launch last December, Pléiades 1B has been declared fully operational on March 19, 2013. Acquisitions of this new very-high-resolution sensor are now available through GeoStore, featuring a faster access to target, greater monitoring capabilities and – above all – enabling a x2 faster Pléiades-coverage from now on.

Licensed Belgian users can get these data at very competitive prices. For more information on this offer, check out the Pléiades for Belgium website.


Satellite Imagery Helps North Africa Fight Locust Plagues

DMC International Imaging (DMCii) is helping The Algerian Space Agency (ASAL) to predict the spread of locust plagues across North Africa as part of a pro-active approach to tackle the destructive phenomenon using satellite imagery.

Every year, North Africa is subjected to locust plagues that threaten to decimate crops and endanger countries’ food security. The satellite imagery is used to assess vegetation conditions, which helps to predict the locations of locust breeding grounds. The imagery, from the UK-DMC2 satellite, is used in conjunction with weather data to help create locust forecasts and focus the application of pesticides to prevent the spread of swarms.

Last year, in a six-month summer campaign to fight the spread of locusts, DMCii acquired monthly images of regions in Southern Algeria, Northern Mali and Northern Niger for ASAL. Now, imagery is being acquired before the summer season starts, to predict as well as monitor the threat of locusts.

Source: RedOrbit


Protecting History with Satellites

Looking down from orbit is an attractive way of monitoring historical sites in remote or politically unstable regions – and can even help archaeologists to make new discoveries.

The ancient city of Samarra was a powerful Islamic capital during the ninth century, located in what is today Iraq. It is the only surviving Islamic capital that retains its original plan, architecture and arts, although only about 20% of the site has been excavated.

Source: ESA

Read more about it here.


Proba-V Minisatellite Reaches Europe Spaceport

ESA’s Proba-V minisatellite for mapping global vegetation has arrived at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, where it is being prepared for a mid-April launch atop a Vega launcher.

The small satellite, cocooned in its protective container, landed on the Air France daily passenger flight on Friday 8 March, arriving at 16:15 local time (19: 15 GMT).

Proba-V is now safely in place within the cleanroom environment of the payload preparation building, its new home for the remainder of this month.

Source: ESA

The satellite and its associated hardware began its odyssey from Europe to South America on Wednesday 6 March, when it left the headquarters of prime contractor QinetiQ Space in Kruibeke, Belgium for Brussels Airport to be packaged on an aircraft pallet.

Read more after the jump.


Data from Pléiades 1B satellite now commercially available

The Pléiades twins now operate as a true constellation on the same orbit, allowing daily revisit capability to guarantee you the right information at the right time:

  • Faster Access to Target
  • Daily Tracking
  • Rapid Coverage

For more information, click here.

Remember: licensed Belgian users can get Pléiades data at strongly reduced prices. More information on this offer can be found here.


Vietnam to launch 3rd satellite into orbit

Vietnam will launch its third satellite into orbit in the second quarter of 2013, according to a document approved by the Vietnamese Government Office.

Vietnamese media VnExpress quoted Bui Trong Tuyen, vice president of Vietnam's Space Technology Institute, as saying that the VNREDSat-1A, an earth observation optical satellite, is designed for the service of earth observation, analysis of natural resources, environmental management and natural disasters monitoring.

Source: SatellitePro

VNREDSat-1A will be launched into sun synchronous orbit (SSO) at an altitude of 670 km. The 120-kg remote sensing satellite is built by France's Astrium, which will supply to Vietnam the complete satellite system and ground receiving facilities. During the project, Astrium will help training 15 Vietnamese engineers in controlling the satellite.

The satellite, worth 70-million U.S. dollars, will be launched by the Arianespace at the Guiana Space Center, French Guiana.

Vietnam's two communication satellites VINASAT-1 and VINASAT-2 were launched into orbit in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

Source: Xinhuanet


SMOS: The global success story continues

ESA’s water mission is shedding new light on the meandering Gulf Stream, just one of the SMOS satellite’s numerous achievements.

Launched in 2009, ESA’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite has been helping us to understand the water cycle.

Source: ESA

Over the past three years it has been providing more accurate information on global soil moisture and ocean salinity.

Europe soil moisture decrease
New results unveiled today in Spain show that SMOS is now providing new insights into the movement of the Gulf Stream – one of the most intensely studied current systems.

Originating in the Caribbean and flowing towards the North Atlantic, the current plays an important role in the transfer of heat and salt, influencing the climate of North America’s east coast and Europe’s west coast.

Read more here.


Securing operational EU funding for GMES Copernicus

Good news for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme: the European Council has secured the programme’s EU funding through 2020.

Source: ESA

The multiannual financial framework – MFF – is a seven-year plan for the EU’s budget. On 8 February, European heads of State and government agreed to include GMES in the 2014–20 MFF.

Within the new framework, €3786 million was allocated for GMES. This amount covers GMES Services, In-Situ Component (a network of sensors on the ground, at sea and in the air) and the Space Component, securing funding for the programme’s long-term operational phase.

The funds will allow GMES operations to continue to provide ever-improving global environmental data to services stimulating economic growth and job creation in Europe.

Read more about it after the jump.


Mount Etna Boils Over

After maintaining a low simmer for ten months, Italy’s Etna volcano boiled over on February 19–20, 2013, with three outbursts in 36 hours. According to the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, each outburst (paroxysm) featured “emission of lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, and an ash cloud.”

Source: ESA

Read more about this here.


Belgian Scientist Develops Open Source Repository

Colibri is a repository for source code developed in ENVI/IDL under the Open Source Initiative, developed by Belgian remote sensing scientist Luc Bertels. It contains a wide variety of algorithms and applications which are of interest for the remote sensing community.


For more information, click here.


Securing Operational EU Funding for GMES Copernicus

Good news for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme: the European Council has secured the programme’s EU funding through 2020.

The multiannual financial framework – MFF – is a seven-year plan for the EU’s budget. On 8 February, European heads of State and government agreed to include GMES in the 2014–20 MFF.

Within the new framework, €3786 million was allocated for GMES. This amount covers GMES Services, In-Situ Component (a network of sensors on the ground, at sea and in the air) and the Space Component, securing funding for the programme’s long-term operational phase.

Source: ESA

The funds will allow GMES operations to continue to provide ever-improving global environmental data to services stimulating economic growth and job creation in Europe.

Want to know more? Read all about it here.


Satellite watches from space as meteor explodes

The meteor that exploded over Russia's Ural Mountains early Friday morning was spotted from space by a weather satellite as the space rock streaked through the atmosphere and exploded.


The photos were captured by the satellite Meteosat-9 as the meteor entered Earth's atmosphere , causing a sonic boom and injuring hundreds in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, about 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) east of Moscow.

Read more about it here.


GOCE settles debate on sloping sea

For decades, scientists have disagreed about whether the sea is higher or lower heading north along the east coast of North America. Thanks to precision gravity data from ESA's GOCE satellite, this controversial issue has now been settled. The answer? It's lower.

Source: ESA

Many might assume that the height of the sea is the same everywhere - but this is not true because winds, currents, tides and different temperatures cause seawater to pile up in some regions and dip in others.

However, it is difficult to determine relative heights of the sea, especially near the coast. To do this, tide gauge measurements need to be compared with a 'level' surface.

For more information, click here.


NASA Launches New Earth Observation Satellite to Continue 40-Year Legacy

NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) roared into space at 1:02 p.m. EST (10:02 a.m. PST) Monday aboard an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The LDCM spacecraft separated from the rocket 79 minutes after launch and the first signal was received 3 minutes later at a ground station in Svalbard, Norway. The solar arrays deployed 86 minutes after launch, and the spacecraft is generating power from them. LDCM is on course to reach its operational, sun-synchronous, polar orbit 438 miles (705 kilometers) above Earth within two months.

Source: NASA

Read the rest of the article after the jump.

Read more about the satellite here.


VITO announces free access to new MERIS 10-daily composites archive

Today, VITO announces a new free product in the world of low resolution Earth observation data, the global Envisat-MERIS 10-daily composites at 1 km resolution (EM10).

All information on the EM10 product can be found on their website. Today, you can already find products ranging from January 2010 till March 2012 in the catalogue. They are backprocessing all previous years (2002-2012) as we speak.

The EM10 products are available free of charge for non-commercial use and can be downloaded via the on-line catalogue.


PLEIADES for Belgium: VHR imagery at vastly reduced prices now available

After the conclusion of our first PLEIADES for Belgium information meeting, we are glad to announce the activation of the order system. From this day on, authorized users will be able to order Pléiades data at vastly reduced prices.

Source: BELSPO

In order to become an authorized member, your organization needs to be a public service established in Belgium. The images acquired through this process can be used for non-commercial purposes only.

Sounds interesting? Want to become an authorized user yourself? Check out the conditions and much more on this website - only available in French and Dutch.


New Earth Explorer mission to be selected by ESA

This March marks an important milestone in the Earth observation calendar. Scientists from all over Europe will be gathering in Graz, Austria, to scrutinise three innovative satellite concepts. One will then be chosen as ESA’s seventh Earth Explorer.

Using breakthrough technology, the series of Earth Explorer satellites is designed to advance science by exploring different aspects of Earth. Together, these missions are improving our understanding of the complex interactions between Earth’s different components and how human activity is affecting natural processes.

With three missions already in orbit and another three on the road to launch, the next User Consultation Meeting will be held on 5–6 March.

This meeting provides the opportunity for the scientific community to debate the merits of three new mission concepts – each of which promises to deliver novel information on how our planet works.

Read more? Click here.


PLEIADES for Belgium information session

The Belgian Science Policy Office organizes a special information meeting on the vastly reduced prices for PLEIADES data Belgian institutions can benefit from. More information on the conditions and the event itself can be found here.


Shadows on ice: Proba-1 images Concordia south polar base

ESA’s Earth-observing microsatellite Proba-1 has glimpsed one of the loneliest places on Earth – Concordia research base in the heart of Antarctica.

This image was acquired by the High-Resolution Camera, the smallest imager on ESA’s smallest satellite. This black and white digital camera incorporates a miniaturised telescope to fit in Proba-1, whose overall volume is less than a cubic metre.

Source: ESA

Long shadows cast by the low Sun pick out details of the base’s layout in this 5 m-resolution image.

The Concordia station, built and operated by France’s IPEV polar institute and Italy’s PNRA Antarctic programme, is one of the few permanently crewed habitats in Antarctica. Located 3233 m above sea level in the high interior, its nearest neighbour is Russia’s Vostok base, some 560 km away.

Its extreme location makes it interesting to ESA, which sponsors medical research on how isolation affects overwintering crews during months of cold darkness.

Read more here.


Wildfires Light Up Western Australia

Careful observers of the new "Black Marble" images of Earth at night released this week by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have noticed bright areas in the western part of Australia that are largely uninhabited. Why is this area so lit up, many have asked?

Away from the cities, much of the night light observed by the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite in these images comes from wildfires. In the bright areas of western Australia, there are no nearby cities or industrial sites but, scientists have confirmed, there were fires in the area when Suomi NPP made passes over the region. This has been confirmed by other data collected by the satellite.

Source: NASA


Pléiades 1B launched succesfully, first images now available

Pléiades 1B was launched on december 2nd, 02:12 UTC,  though according to the local time at the launch pad, the date was still december 1st. Some of the first images have now become available. You can find them here.

the first ever Pléiades 1B image, shot on december 5th, 2012


Save the date: selection of ESA’s seventh Earth Explorer

Next spring will mark a significant milestone in the Earth observation calendar. The decision will be taken as to which of the three concepts competing to be the next Earth Explorer satellite mission will be developed and built.
Prior to this important decision, scientists and data users will be able to discuss the merits of each of the three candidates and express their views at a consultation meeting, which ESA is planning to hold on 5–6 March in Graz, Austria.

Details on how to register for the Earth Explorer User Consultation Meeting will be announced on the ESA website after confirmation of funding at ESA’s Ministerial Council Meeting in November.

For more information, click here.


New Commercial Imaging Spacecraft Progressing at Lockheed Martin

 Lockheed Martin is making steady progress in a key test phase on GeoEye's next-generation, high-resolution imaging satellite, GeoEye-2, as IKONOS, the world's first commercial remote sensing spacecraft marks 13 years of outstanding services for GeoEye's customers around the globe.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company is developing GeoEye-2 under a fixed-price contract with GeoEye. The satellite is currently in the midst of Baseline Integrated System Test (BIST), an extensive test designed to characterize the performance of the integrated satellite and establish a performance baseline prior to entering environmental testing.