European Space Agency (ESA)

Major European programme for the environment under the spotlight

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Source: European Space Agency (ESA)

On 16 and 17 September, in the context of France's presidency of the EU, Lille will play host to 'Forum GMES 2008' at the Grand Palais. The GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) programme has been set up to provide services relating to the environment, climate change, resource management, security and global issues. These services draw on data - mainly Earth observation data - from satellites and in-situ measurements, combined with socio-economic data, processed in such a way as to readily generate usable information for all citizens in Europe on a sustained basis.

GMES is an initiative of the European Commission, which is responsible for setting the requirements and identifying the services to be offered. ESA is in charge of the development and procurement of dedicated GMES satellites and for the coordination of space assets provided by European national operators and EUMETSAT.

Forum GMES 2008 will be an opportunity for all the players concerned to present, demonstrate and share the services that GMES can provide, for instance in the management of the marine and atmospheric environment, land use, emergency and humanitarian events, global security issues and monitoring of climate change.  

Over the last 30 years, ESA has been developing Earth observation satellites, notably all the European meteorological satellites, in cooperation with EUMETSAT, and the ERS-1, -2 and Envisat satellites, which are designed more to perform measurements relevant to environmental and climate research.

Based on this long experience and on requirements derived from applications, ESA is developing new missions called 'Sentinels'. The five Sentinels under development will feature radar and superspectral imaging, as well as ocean and atmospheric monitoring capacities. The industrial phase of the first three satellites is already under way.

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