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New scientific challenges and goals for ESA's Living Planet Program

ESA announces a new science strategy for the future direction of its Living Planet Programme, addressing the continuing need to further our understanding of the Earth System and the impact that human activity is having.

The Changing Earth: New Scientific Challenges for ESA's Living Planet Programme focuses on the most fundamental challenge facing humanity at the beginning of the 21st century that being global change. As we begin to understand more about the Earth as a system, it is very apparent that human activity is having a profound and negative impact on our environment. For example, our understanding of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and the strong link between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature both point to human activity leading to a warmer world, unlike anything seen over the last million years. A better knowledge of the Earth System and the impact that increasing human activity is having is of crucial importance in providing the basis for the management of our environment and our ability to derive sustainable benefit.

Since observing the Earth from space first became possible more than forty years ago, satellite missions have become central to monitoring and learning about how the Earth works. Looking to the future, the new strategy for ESA's Living Planet Programme aims to assess the most important Earth-science questions to be addressed in the years to come. It outlines the observational challenges that these raise, and the contribution that the Agency can make through the programme. Volker Liebig, ESA Director of Earth Observation stated, "These challenges will guide ESA's efforts in providing essential Earth-observation information to all relevant user communities, in close cooperation with our international partners."

Underpinning the new strategy is a set of ambitious objectives, which include:

  • Launch a steady flow of missions addressing key issues in Earth science.


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Contact: Einar-Arne Herland
einar-arne.herland@esa.int
31-715-655-673
European Space Agency
27-Sep-2006


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