23 May 2006: The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced the shortlist of new Earth Explorer mission proposals within its Living Planet Programme. This is part of the selection procedure that will eventually lead to the launch of the fourth Earth Explorer Core mission during the first half of the next decade.
The six missions cover a range of environmental issues with the aim of furthering our understanding of the Earth system and changing climate: BIOMASS – to take global measurements of forest biomass; TRAQ (TRopospheric composition and Air Quality) – to monitor air quality and long-range transport of air pollutants; PREMIER (PRocess Exploration through Measurements of Infrared and millimetre-wave Emitted Radiation) – to understand processes that link trace gases, radiation, chemistry and climate in the atmosphere; FLEX (FLuorescence EXplorer) – to observe global photosynthesis through the measurement of fluorescence; A-SCOPE (Advanced Space Carbon and Climate Observation of Planet Earth) – to improve our understanding of the global carbon cycle and regional carbon dioxide fluxes; CoReH2O (Cold Regions Hydrology High-resolution Observatory – to make detailed observations of key snow, ice and water cycle characteristics.
The proposals were peer reviewed by scientific teams, and also appraised technically and programmatically. Based on these reviews, the ESAC evaluated the proposals and recommended the list of six mission ideas in order of priority. Following these recommendations, ESA’s Programme Board for Earth Observation on 18-19 May approved the proposal of the Director of Earth Observation Programmes to initiate assessment studies for these six mission candidates.