ESA to build EarthCARE satellite

ESA to build EarthCARE satellite


Germany, 18 May 2007: Under ESA’s EarthCARE mission, scientists and engineers from different parts of the world recently met to discuss preparations for a mission that is being implemented with the cooperation of JAXA and NICT to address the need for a better understanding of earth’s climate by observing the interactions between clouds, aerosols and solar radiation regulate climate.

The workshop, held at ESA-ESTEC in the Netherlands on 7-9 May 2007, followed the deadline for industry to submit proposals for design consolidation, construction, launch and commissioning of the EarthCARE satellite. ESA is presently evaluating the proposals and subject to a satisfactory evaluation and negotiation of the procurement contract. This will be followed by full mission implementation and launch in 2013, in cooperation with ESA’s Japanese partners JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) and NICT (Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology). Japanese Space Advisory Committee has allowed JAXA and NICT to initiate the full implementation of one of its core scientific instruments, the cloud profiling RADAR.

EarthCARE is expected to be the largest of ESA’s Earth Explorer satellites within the Living Planet Programme. EarthCARE is aimed at better understanding of the relationship between the three-dimensional structure of clouds and aerosols and radiative fluxes, which play a major role in the Earth’s radiation budget.

The EarthCARE satellite will carry four instruments to measure vertical profiles of clouds and aerosols by employing a Cloud/Aerosol LiDAR and a Cloud RADAR with Doppler capability, with precise co-located field-of-views. The LiDAR allows the observation of aerosols and the optically thin regions of clouds (invisible to the radar), while the optically thick region of the same clouds, which cannot be penetrated by the LiDAR, will be observed using the radar. The two active instruments will be supported by a 150-km swath multi-spectral imager in order to gain across track information needed for the retrieval of three-dimensional structures of clouds and aerosols. The corresponding short- and long-wave radiation into space will be measured using a broadband radiometer with three viewing directions (nadir, forward and backward), in order to link the observed three-dimensional cloud and aerosol structures to the actual radiances and radiative fluxes.