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Observing the earth from above

  • CryoSat is the European Space Agency (ESA) mission dedicated to the precise monitoring of changes in the thickness of marine ice floating in the polar oceans, along with variations in the thickness of the vast ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica. This 2013 CryoSat map depicts Arctic sea-ice thickness. It is the result of three years of ice measurements in the northern hemisphere. © Planetary Visions/ CPOM/ UCL/ ESA
  • This is one of the first ever photos taken by Envisat, the ESA’s earth observation satellite on 22 March 2002. The image shows the area of Casamance, Senegal, that lies to the south of The Gambia and includes the Casamance River. It displays the complex river system with its heavy discharge into the sea. This kind of image is useful for monitoring the flow of sediment generated by inland soil erosion. © ESA
  • The coast of the United Arab Emirates hosts some of the largest desalination plants in the world. Whilst the water they release can affect the coastal ecosystem, both harmful and non-harmful algal blooms can also greatly affect the desalination plants. In particular, this local phenomenon, known as the ‘red tide’ – in which algae accumulate rapidly in the water column, resulting in colouration of the surface water – has recently affected the region’s desalination plants. Satellite data can be used to identi
  • Between January 2011 and mid-2012 parts of the Santorini archipelago in Greece, such as the Kameni Islands shown in the centre of this image, rose by 14 cm due to volcanic activity. Data derived from the Copernicus contributing missions Envisat and TerraSAR-X, is enabling scientists to monitor geological risks. Public authorities can then take necessary action to ensure the safety of local populations. © PARKS
  • The first Sentinel-1 satellite will be ready for launch in spring 2014. It is a polar-orbiting, all-weather, day-and-night radar imaging mission for Copernicus’s land and ocean services. © ESA
  • Sentinel-2 is also a polar-orbiting mission. It is a high-resolution imaging mission that will monitor land and provide images of vegetation, soil and water cover, inland waterways and coastal areas. Sentinel-2 will also provide information for emergency services, particularly in disaster response activities. © ESA
  • Sentinel-3 is a multi-instrument mission to determine factors such as sea-surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, ocean colour and land colour, with high-end accuracy and reliability. © ESA
  • Sentinel-4 is a payload devoted to atmospheric monitoring that will be launched upon a Meteosat Third Generation Satellite in geostationary orbit. It will provide capabilities that can support hourly monitoring of European air quality and atmospheric chemistry. © ESA
  • Sentinel-5 will monitor the atmosphere from polar orbit aboard a MetOp Second Generation satellite that is envisaged for launch in 2020. To reduce data gaps between Envisat, the Copernicus contributing mission, and Sentinel-5, a Sentinel-5 precursor mission is scheduled to launch in 2015. © ESA