With the design consolidation phase soon to start for ESA's EarthCARE mission, scientists and engineers from around the world recently met to discuss preparations for a mission that is being implemented with the cooperation of Japanese partners to address the need for a better understanding of how the interactions between clouds, aerosols and solar radiation regulate climate.
The workshop, held at ESA-ESTEC in the Netherlands on 7-9 May 2007, followed the deadline for industry to submit proposals for design consolidation, construction, launch and commissioning of the EarthCARE satellite. ESA is presently evaluating the proposals and subject to a satisfactory evaluation and negotiation of the procurement contract, Phase B will commence within the next couple of months. This will be followed by full mission implementation and launch in 2013, in cooperation with ESA's Japanese partners JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) and NICT (Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology).
The decision to involve a partner agency from outside the ESA member and cooperating states underlines the interest and importance of reliable international co-operation for large Earth-observation research missions, both from an engineering and scientific perspective. The success of the EarthCARE mission will build on a favourable decision expected this summer by the Japanese Space Advisory Committee allowing JAXA and NICT to initiate the full implementation of one of its core scientific instruments, the cloud profiling radar. EarthCARE will be the largest of ESAs Earth Explorer satellites within the Living Planet Programme.
EarthCARE will improve our understanding of the relationship between the three-dimensional structure of clouds and aerosols and radiative fluxes. Clouds are the primary player in the Earth's radiation budget, while aerosols both reflect and trap radiation and furthermore strongly influence the life cycl
Contact: Tobias Wehr
European Space Agency