Carrying a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), the images that Sentinel-1 will provide are particularly well suited for applications based on mapping sea ice. High-resolution ice charts, monitoring icebergs and forecasting ice conditions are examples of important application areas that are expected to benefit greatly from Sentinel-1, which is being developed by ESA in support of GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).
Developing the mission to meet the users' needs in a variety of application areas is of utmost importance. A major challenge for Sentinel-1 is to ensure that the satellite will yield data with the quality and timeliness that users truly need. It is not surprising therefore, that airborne campaigns play an important role in helping with the design of these missions as the experiments carried out simulate satellite data long before the actual launch of the mission.
"ESA is putting a tremendous effort into the design and implementation of the Sentinel-1 mission," says Malcolm Davidson, Sentinel-1 Mission Scientist. "While this effort might be invisible to future users of Sentinel-1 products, it is critical that we validate the modes of operation and quality of data products ahead of launch. The IceSAR campaign is allowing us to simulate Sentinel-1 radar images over ice well before launch in 2011, and better prepare for the mission."
Now one week into the IceSAR campaign, a few surprises are being revealed. Unexpectedly, there is a lack of ice – even where the campaign is being carried out near Longyearbyen in Svalbard, which is way above and Arctic Circle and only 10 degrees from the North Pole.
"It is unusual to have so little sea ice at this time of year," commented sea ice expert Wolfgang Dierking from the Alfred Wegner Institute (AWI), who is leading a team investigating better methods of characterising sea ice and the impact it has on climate. "This illustrates the importance mapping sea ice extent and conditions from space. In addition to the operational needs for high-resolution ice charts, in support of shipping for instance, we know that sea ice plays a major role in climate forecasting as it both acts as a blanket of insulation between the water and the atmosphere and, unlike open water, strongly reflects incident sunlight. Consistent information on sea ice conditions over large areas and over long time periods are required – which is exactly what the Sentinel-1 mission will bring."
A big help in locating sea ice has come from the radar satellite images from current SAR missions such as Envisat. Such 'radar maps' are now available operationally through the internet and provide a synoptic view of ice conditions around Svalbard. During campaign activities they are an integral part of the planning meeting held each morning with all the campaign participants.
The campaign will last about three weeks, but one week in and the first successful airborne acquisitions have already been made and processed on site. Irene Hajnsek from the German Space Agency DLR said that, "What impresses me most is the variety and clarity of the different sea ice structures visible in the radar images. The dual-polarisation C-band images we collected a few days ago and closely mimic those of the future Sentinel-1 mission show an amazing variety of different ice floes. The different shapes and sizes are clearly distinguished in the images because of their texture, and using both polarisations at the same time through the roughness shows up as colour. It is quite a challenge to collect and process data over flight legs of 150 km or more, but looking at these images I know we are on the right track."
The IceSAR participants include teams from the Alfred Wegner Institute, the Microwave and Radar Institute from the German Space Agency DLR and ESA, and despite the numbingly cold conditions the campaign will continue with a number of other airborne flights over sea ice in the coming days.
Malcolm Davidson | alfa
Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union
UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences