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ESA to select new Earth Explorer missions

Following the successful implementation of the ERS satellites and Envisat, which address Earth science issues of a global nature, Earth Explorers are smaller research missions dedicated to specific aspects of our Earth environment. The first four Earth Explorers were selected for development in 1999, the first of which is due for launch at the end of this year. Over the last two years the Agency has been working on the next generation of candidate missions and is currently evaluating the resulting six satellite concepts. Before the Earth Science Advisory Committee provides recommendations to the Agency, the six missions will be reviewed at the Earth Explorer User Consultation Meeting.

Meeting registration details and the Agenda can be found at: ravel.esa.int/docs/EEUCM/index.html

The six candidate missions are:

EarthCARE (Earth, Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation Explorer
The biggest scientific uncertainties in climate change prediction are associated with the effect that clouds and aerosols have on the Earth's radiative budget. Although it is known that high-altitude clouds warm the Earth while clouds lower in the atmosphere contribute to cooling, it is unclear whether clouds have an overall warming or cooling effect on the Earth. Aerosols can also have both a warming and a cooling effect. Estimates of global warming currently have an uncertainty of 4-5C. The main aim of the EarthCARE mission is to measure clouds and aerosols and the geophysical parameters associated with them in order to minimise climate predication uncertainty.

SPECTRA (Surface Processes and Ecosystem Changes Through Response Analysis)
The release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by human activity is recognised as one of the main drivers of climate change, therefore a better understanding of the biosphere's ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere is extremely important
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Contact: Michael Rast
michael.rast@esa.int
31-071-565-4465
European Space Agency
5-Feb-2004


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