Thursday, February 21, 2019

Planet Inspired: Cosmic Gazes Towards Earth

Starting in 2013, they will help detect pollutants, manage catastrophes and mitigate the effects of climate change

Starting in 2013, they will help detect pollutants, manage catastrophes and mitigate the effects of climate change. We will give you a preview of how the orbiting monitoring network, based in Frascati, works.

“The Sentinels will change our way of taking care of the Earth. They will help us manage the environment better, to understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and they will also guarantee the civil security that we need.” Volker Liebig, who for years has directed the Earth observation programs of the European Space Agency (Esa)and the Esrin Center in Frascati where the environmental data gathered by the satellites are processed, explains the importance of a plan with which Europe intends to lead an operation for the protection of the planet. The five “Sentinel” satellites will gather data on the environment according to the “Gmes Plan” (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). Every five days, it will provide a complete scan of the whole of Europe.

But what will be the difference compared to the other observations made so far from orbit?

“It will be a decisive change,” specifies Volker. “Untill now, we have sent observers up there that monitored several environmental aspects in a specialized, but limited, manner. The Sentinels, on the other hand, the first system of its kind in the world, will carry out routine work, consisting in constant observation, showing us what is happening on the earth, in the sea and in the atmosphere.” But what will they be sending us that is so useful and necessary? “In the seas,” explains Volker, “they will measure the rise in level nonstop. But at the same time, they will monitor the quality of the water. The space observers will keep watch over buildings and monuments, especially in those areas subject to modifications in the soil capable of compromising the stability of structures.”

Similarly, land areas will be monitored to detect risky changes. “For example, with these methods, we have measured a roughly 10 cm sinking of a runway at the Fiumicino airport,” added Volker. “Measurements of this type are important in the construction of subways but also for the placement of power lines, wind or solar power plants and installing pipelines

Even more sophisticated data will be available about glaciers, which can shrink and flow more rapidly due to the increase in the temperature beneath them. Naturally in emergency conditions caused by natural disasters, within a short period of time, it will be possible to assess the consequences and facilitate intervention.

All these tasks will be carried out by different types of Sentinels, equipped with radar, optical systems and a wide range of other sensors, built by Thales Alenia Space and Astrium. Initially, they will be managed by ESA and Eumetsat.

Sentinel-1 is nearing completion with its launch planned for the second half of 2013. The data will be gathered by various European centers. The first station in Italy has been built at Telespazio’s center in Matera. Along with its subsidiary e-Geos, it will process the data that will then be sent to Esrin in Frascati. “We are preparing both for improvements in emergency and maritime safety services, providing indications in 30 minutes, and for the production of various types of environmental maps,” said Federica Mastracci, head of applications in e-Geos. “The amount of information that we will receive will be enormous, but the data gathered will make it possible to face environmental pmroblems as never before.”

Fonte: Planet Inspired

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