On 28 September 2018, the European Space Agency (ESA) has announced the three Earth Explorer ideas that have been accepted by ESA’s Programme Board for Earth Observation (EO) to compete as the tenth Earth Explorer mission. In the context of its research activities in environmental sensing and modelling and more particularly in remote sensing and natural resources modelling, a team of LIST researchers has been working on the Geosynchronous –Continental Land-Atmosphere Sensing System (G-CLASS) that was selected as one of the three Earth Explorer ideas. Thanks to the geosynchronous radar, processes on timescales less than a day, which have been so far poorly observed from space, will be monitored.
As mentioned in ESA’s news, the main purpose of an Earth Explorer is to advance science and technology, and to address questions that have a direct bearing on societal issues that humankind will face in the coming decades such as the availability of food, water, energy and resources, public health and climate change. Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said that “the three ideas are all technologically innovative and have great potential. We look forward to seeing how these concepts develop during the next phase.”
LIST researchers’ efforts have paid off. In line with the Institute’s vision in this field, that is to conduct and to offer research and innovation of excellence, while contributing to the Luxembourg and European economies, the environment sustainability and the human welfare, they contributed to develop the G-CLASS science case regarding soil moisture and hydrology. G-Class Earth Explorer proposal has been short-listed for feasibility study. It is one of the three selected projects out of twenty-one, for entering the phase zero. After the feasibility studies, a final selection will be made with a potential launch in 2027-2028.
G-CLASS is designed to help scientists unravel details of the daily water cycle. Some of the main challenges come from processes which occur over periods of a few hours and at local scale. Marco Chini, LIST associated scientist of the proposal, exlained that “G-Class science objectives address significant diurnal processes such as snow melt and soil moisture change, with societal impacts including agriculture, water resource management, flooding and landslides. (…) They are currently defining an experiment, in collaboration with ESA, focused on the estimation of soil moisture on vegetated areas which will be relevant to prove the performances of G-Class mission.”
For any further information on this topic, contact Marco Chini via email.