Concepts for an EO Land Convoy Mission
Cutter, Mike1; Eves, Stuart1; Chang, Mark1; Remedios, John2; Humpage, Neil2; Hall, David3

ESA are undertaking three studies investigating possible synergistic satellite missions flying in formation with the operational GMES and or METOP satellites.

These three studies are focussed on:-

a) ocean and ice
b) land
c) atmosphere

SSTL, the University of Leicester and Astrium Ltd are undertaking the second of these studies into the synergetic observation by missions flying in formation with European operational missions, focusing on the land theme.

The aim of the study is to identify and develop, (through systematic analysis), potential innovative Earth science objectives and novel applications and services that could be made possible by flying additional satellites, (possibly of small-class type), in constellation or formation with one or more already deployed or firmly planned European operational missions, with an emphasis on the GMES Sentinels, but without excluding other possibilities.

In the long-term, the project aims at stimulating the development of novel, (smaller), mission concepts in Europe that may exploit new and existing European operational capacity in order to address in a cost effective manner new scientific objectives and applications. One possible route of exploitation would be via the proposed Small Mission Initiative ((SMI) that may be initiated under the ESA Earth Explorer Observation Programme (EOEP).

The following ESA science priority areas have been highlighted during the study:-

  • The water cycle
  • The carbon cycle
  • Terrestrial ecosystems
  • Biodiversity
  • Land use and land use cover
  • Human population dynamics

    The study team have identified the science gaps that might be addressed by a "convoy" mission flying with the ESA/EU Sentinel satellites, identified the candidate mission concepts and down-selected the most promising concepts from a list of candidates. A final selection to will be made over the coming weeks followed by a detailed technical study of selected concepts.

    The paper will present the results of the gap analysis, potential convoy concepts and the conclusion from the study.