At the end of the commissioning phase of ESA’s ERS-1 satellite in early 1992, the space agency began disseminating oceanographic data of the satellite’s onboard instruments to users through a network of landlines. Many of these data were re-formatted in near-real time for compatibility with end-users connected to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) network.
A few months later, ESA implemented an innovative system allowing some users to receive data through small dish antennas. This system, called Broadband Data Dissemination Network (BDDN), was based on telecommunication satellites broadcast. During this period, only data of small volume were delivered in near-real time (i.e. within three hours), while data of larger volumes took nearly 24 hours to be delivered.
As the need for timely information increased for environmental forecasting and disaster response, ESA sought to speed up its data flow by making use of emerging technologies. By the time ESA launched ERS-2 in 1995, the space agency was readily using the Internet to deliver data from more sophisticated instruments, such as the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME).
Responding to the growing demand for ozone data to monitor the ozone layer and improve ultraviolet (UV) radiation forecasts, ESA began using the GOME instrument aboard ERS-2 to maintain a regular census of global stratospheric ozone levels. Since 1997, the sensor has been delivering near-real time data on ozone levels to users. It also provides coverage of other trace gases, UV and air-pollution monitoring.
The need for near-real time data delivery has continued to increase over the last 10 years as a consequence of the incredible progress in Information Technology; the power of computers and the growth in network bandwidths and storage capacities have resulted in Earth observation (EO) users requesting larger volumes of data to be delivered in unprecedented time frames.
In an effort to meet these demands and deal with the vast amount of near-real time data produced by Envisat, the world’s largest Earth-observing satellite launched by ESA in 2002, ESA upgraded its data delivery method to the quicker Data Dissemination System (DDS), which also uses telecommunication satellites. In addition, as the ESA mandate for delivering EO data expanded to non-ESA missions (Third Party Missions), the various European centres delivering EO data were interconnected through large communication networks.
Fifteen years later, there are many established services requesting near-real time EO data delivery. For example, utilising data from Envisat’s Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR) instrument, as well as other instruments aboard different satellites, daily sea surface temperature maps of European seas are made available as part of the agency’s Medspiration project. Because the AATSR instrument has an unprecedented spatial resolution of two square kilometres, the maps also allow for detailed features like eddies, fronts and plumes to be detected.
Today’s Earth check-up provides access to daily worldwide fire maps, UV radiation levels, ozone forecasts and daily sea surface temperatures.
The latest ESA near-real time capability added to the Earth check-up is MIRAVI, short for MERIS Images RApid Visualisation. MIRAVI, which debuted last December, allows people unfamiliar with EO data to track natural events in progress, such as fires, floods and volcanic eruptions, or simply explore the planet through the eyes of a satellite. Although the MIRAVI images are fascinating and provide the marvellous feeling that users are ‘onboard the satellite’, scientists prefer to use the complete MERIS products, which are also available through near-real time servers, for research purposes.
Just as ESA has met the growing number of users and requests for data from a few gigabytes transmitted per day in 1992 to 400 gigabytes delivered daily in 2007, it will continue to develop and exploit new technologies to meet the rising demands of near-real time Earth data from space.
In the next months, ESA will further expand its range of EO data available in near-real time to scientists by allowing them easy access to large amounts of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and MERIS data, particularly over Europe.
Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy