ENVISAT: EU Supports New Space Applications for Global Monitoring of Environment & Security

ENVISAT, successfully launched this morning from the European spaceport at Kourou, French Guyana, by an Ariane 5 rocket, is the largest and most sophisticated Earth observation satellite ever built in Europe. From an altitude of 800 km, the 8.2-ton Environment Satellite – Europe’s new “eyes in space” – will deliver an unprecedented wealth of images and data that will help scientists better understand the Earth, and assist European Union decision-makers in reaching environmental and other policy goals.

Philippe Busquin, Commissioner for Research, also responsible for space policy, said: “I congratulate ESA, CNES, Arianespace, and all European scientists involved, on the successful launch of ENVISAT. Europe’s Environment Satellite is a good illustration of Europe’s first-class space science and technologies. A better and more intensive use of space technologies in monitoring our environment could help us meet the challenges linked to globalisation. More accurate and reliable information will help Europe better address problems such as global change, natural catastrophes or mass movements of refugees. ENVISAT is set to become a cornerstone in our policy of building an autonomous European capacity for global monitoring which the European Commission and the European Space Agency are jointly piloting.”

When ENVISAT spreads its solar wings, European researchers, private companies and public authorities will have access to the world’s most sophisticated tools to monitor climate change, track environmental pollution, react to natural disasters. Streams of data from its 10 scientific instruments will build the most detailed profile ever of the planet’s atmosphere, land, rivers and seas. Monitoring, 24 hours a day from its polar orbit, movements of the earth surface, glaciers, ice caps, and oceanic currents, ENVISAT will significantly improve our global observing capacity for global change research. It will also help optimise maritime traffic, monitor land use and respond to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and forest fires. Most importantly, ENVISAT will foster a whole new generation of innovative, user-driven space applications and services for the environment and security.

Practical applications of space technologies and the development of space-based services are key priorities of the Community’s Framework Programme for Research. This includes exploitation of space data and their integration into long term, systematic observing systems for environment and sustainable development. Such space applications are an essential element of the Global Monitoring Environment and Security (GMES) initiative proposed by the European Commission and endorsed by the EU Council in October 2001.

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