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ESA gives green light to funding for GMES


ESA’s Earth Observation Programme Board met at the Eden Project in Cornwall on 21 and 22 September. An agreement was reached at this meeting among ESA’s Member States to release a total of €80m to fund the next stage of the ESA component of the European GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) initiative.

Part of this funding will cover a socioeconomic assessment of the benefits of GMES and the follow-on to the work already done by ESA on definition and demonstration of the services to be provided by GMES. More importantly, the Board gave the green light to the start of work on the space component of GMES by approving €30m for preparatory activities comprising architecture studies, ground segment design and initial definition studies for the five "sentinels" which will be the backbone of the future European Earth Observation System to monitor the environment. These activities will pave the way to the decision to be taken at the next ESA Council meeting at ministerial level, in late 2005 or early 2006, on full implementation of GMES.

Professor José Achache, Director of Earth Observation at ESA, said: "Natural disasters, such as the hurricanes in the Caribbean this year and the floods which devastated Eastern Europe in 2002, are becoming increasingly frequent and violent. In order to understand their connection with man-induced global changes and mitigate their impact, there is an increasing need for better global monitoring and forecasting capabilities. That is what GMES will provide. I am particularly pleased at this decision, which comes at the end of my term at ESA, where I have worked hard to build the foundations of this programme".

Dr Steven Wilson, Chairman of the ESA Programme Board and Director of Earth Observation at the British National Space Centre, said: "ESA Member States have now agreed on the provision of key information services for critical aspects of our environment, and the underpinning technologies to guarantee comprehensive monitoring of our environment from space. The UK is playing a leading role in both the science and engineering capabilities in this field as well as developing ground-based services to utilise satellite data."

Simonetta Cheli | alfa
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