In orbit for three and a half years now, ESAs smallest Earth Observation satellite is making a big contribution to science, a workshop heard this week. Proba applications range from studying land vegetation to water quality monitoring, assessing productivity of Italian vineyards, even helping hunt for meteorite impact craters.
ESAs Proba microsatellite is about the same size and shape as a washing machine. It was launched on 22 October 2001 as a one-year technology demonstrator, but continuing high in-orbit performance has led to it being adopted as an Earth Observation Third Party Mission. Probas largest instrument is the Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (CHRIS), a hyperspectral imager that can view the Earths surface to a spatial resolution of 18 metres in a combination of up to 19 out of 62 programmable spectral bands to return highly detailed environmental information.
Some 56 scientific teams worldwide are either currently using or planning to use CHRIS data. This week saw the Third Proba/CHRIS Workshop take place at ESRIN in Frascati, ESAs establishment in Italy. Starting on 21 March, the three-day event was an opportunity for researchers to share current results and future plans, and have an input into future CHRIS acquisition planning. "What this workshop makes clear is that CHRIS/Proba is no longer a technology demonstrator but has become a real tool for actual research and applications," stated Professor Jose Moreno of the University of Valencia.
Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
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