This week marks an important anniversary for space innovation in Europe: on March 1st 2002, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Earth Observation satellite Envisat into orbit.
Envisat was an advanced polar-orbiting Earth Observation satellite providing environmental data, including related to atmosphere, ocean, land and ice. It was placed in a sun-synchronous near-Earth Polar orbit, circling the planet once every 100 minutes at an altitude of around 800 kilometres.
With an initially planned lifespan of 5 years, Envisat continued working much longer: it observed our planet for 10 years, circling Earth over 50,000 times and delivering over 1000 terabytes of data.
Envisat payload module included a set of 10 innovative instruments, among which advanced synthetic aperture radar (ASAR), microwave radiometer (MWR) and laser retro-reflector (LRR). Envisat provided near-real-time data. Download to Earth was ensured through a network of ground stations located in Kiruna (SE) Fucino (IT) and Svalbard (NO), as well as through ESA’s Artemis data relay satellite, enabling data downloads directly to the Payload Data Control Centre at ESA’s ESRIN facility in Frascati (IT).
Envisat’s data resulted in the publication of around 7,000 scientific papers and contributed to the development of several operational and commercial applications.
Envisat’s observations boosted scientific advances in the characterisation of various Earth’s phenomena, such as melting Arctic Sea ice, global sea level rise, fluctuations in the extent of the Antarctic ozone hole, ocean currents and chlorophyll concentrations. It helped monitoring environmental changes and analysing their long-term impacts on the planet.
Last but not least, Envisat provided key information that helped to implement the next generation of European Earth observing satellites – the Copernicus Sentinels.
At SURPRISE, we are committed to take Earth Observation technology innovation even further, by harnessing SLM and CS, to enhance capability in spatial resolution, on-board data processing and encryption functionalities. So, we are beyond happy to celebrate this important anniversary and to continue working along the innovation path of Envisat.
Want to learn more about Envisat? Take a look here or enjoy this video.
Cover picture credits: Photo by Nikhita Singhal on Unsplash