France: European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a state-of-the-art optical data relay terminal to be flown on the Sentinel-2 satellite.
The contract was signed by Volker Liebig, ESA Director of Earth Observation, Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, Jurgen Mallwitz, Head of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Administration Department and Christoph Hohage, DLR Director of national programmes.
The Sentinel satellites – numbered from Sentinel-1 to Sentinel-5 – will form the core of the European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme. Sentinel-2 will be devoted to monitoring the land environment and will deliver high-resolution data (around 10 metres and above on the ground).
Its data will benefit services in areas such as land management, agriculture and forestry and environmental monitoring as well as disaster control and humanitarian relief operations.
In order to meet the user requirements, DLR will provide the Optical Communication Payload (OCP) – a new capability to download large volumes of data from the Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-1 Earth observation satellites via a data relay satellite directly to the ground.
The OCP, which uses laser communication technology, will accommodate the two Sentinels’ transmission data rates and communicate with a similar optical data relay terminal on a geostationary satellite. The Sentinel-2 mission is envisaged to fly as a pair of satellites with the first planned to launch in 2013.
GMES aims to deliver environment and security services and is being led by the European Commission. It is the European response to the ever-increasing demands of effective environmental policies.
ESA is responsible for implementing the GMES Space Component, a set of Earth observation missions involving ESA, EU/ESA Member States and other partners. Central elements of the Space Component are the five families of Sentinel missions.