Envisat Symposium day one: Steady symphony of Europe's largest satellite

At the same time Envisat's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) has proved its worth in varied ways, including oil spill detection, ship detection and measurements of wind and wave fields, even a promising new demonstration of mapping Gulf Stream displacement using radar Doppler shifting.

Envisat was praised as a worthy "toolbox" for polar research by Duncan Wingham of University College London.

He recounted how results gathered by the satellites and its ERS predecessors have already greatly reduced the mass balance uncertainty associated with the Antarctic ice sheets basically whether they are growing or shrinking across the continent and promise to do more so in future, especially in conjunction with ESA's forthcoming CryoSat, a mission to measure global ice thickness.

Wingham also stressed the increasing utility of radar data in operational sea ice forecasting, and that the data returned on sea ice by Envisat's new (GMM) Global Monitoring Mode are starting to fill holes in our existing models.

Hartmut Grassl of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology covered atmospheric applications as part of a wide-ranging appraisal of Envisat as an environmental satellite, stressing the operational data assimilation taking place of its results by bodies such as the European Centre for Medium Wave Forecasts (ECMWF).

Fabio Rocca of the Polytechnic of Milano concluded the day by outlining the many and varied uses of Envisat SAR interferometry (InSAR) basically a highly-sophisticated version of 'spot the difference' carried out with multiple radar images of the same site.

"Interferometry can take place on the short term in seconds to minutes or the long term days to months," Rocca explained. "The change in perspective between images can be used to generate highly sophisticated digital elevation models (DEMs), or the change in signal coherence can give information on vegetation or surface properties. In the longer te

Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
European Space Agency

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