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European airborne campaign simulates Sentinel imagery over land

Designing a new satellite mission is always a challenging prospect. Not only is there the huge technical issue of building a spacecraft, but ensuring the eventual data is exactly what users require is also critical to the success of the mission. To this end, a new airborne campaign is being carried out as part of the development procedure for two of ESA's Sentinel missions.

The Sentinel satellite series, which are being developed by ESA in support of the European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES), will meet the needs of the user in a variety of application areas by providing real-time services relating to the land, sea, atmosphere and ice fields. It is imperative that these, as with other Earth Observation missions, yield data with the quality and timeliness that users truly need for their applications.

It is not surprising then, that along with the task of designing and building the satellites, airborne campaigns can play an important role in helping with the development of the mission as they allow satellite data to be simulated long before the actual launch of the mission.

The ESA AgriSAR campaign, which finishes on 25 July, represents an ambitious large-scale attempt to assess the performance of the Sentinel-1 (C-band SAR) and Sentinel-2 (Optical Multi-spectral) for land applications. The campaign was unique in scope and scale. AgriSAR represents one of the few, perhaps the only, land-oriented campaign of its type including frequent airborne SAR coverage during the entire crop-growing season -from sowing to harvest.

The main test site was Demmin, an agricultural site located in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in North-East Germany, approximately 150 km north of Berlin. The German Aerospace Centre's (DLR) E-SAR system was flown over the Demmin test site more than 14 times between the months of April and July. Weekly in-situ measurements were taken on the ground in selected fields throughout the same p
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Contact: Malcolm Davidson
malcolm.davidson@esa.int
31-71-565-5957
European Space Agency
24-Jul-2006


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