Results of the EO Sentinel Convoy Study on the Ocean & Ice Theme: Gaps, Opportunities and Science Benefits
Lévêque, Nicolas1; Regan, Amanda2; Rott, Helmut3; Johannessen, Johnny4; Partington, Kim5; Atkinson, Karl1; Silvestrin, Pierluigi2; Fernandez, Diego6

Over the next few years a number of new long-term operational Earth Observation (EO) satellites will be launched by Europe. These missions include the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) Sentinel spacecraft and EUMETSAT operated Metop satellite series. If additional cost-effective missions could be flown together with these operational missions then it would be possible to meet new Earth science and application objectives , e.g. fulfilling observational gaps, multipoint measurement of Earth system phenomena, etc.
As part of its STSE programme, the European Space Agency (ESA) is funding three exploratory activities (known as the EO-Convoy studies). The aim of these studies is twofold: Firstly, to identify scientific and operational objectives and needs which would benefit from additional in-orbit support. Secondly, to identify and develop a number of cost-effective mission concepts that would meet these identified objectives and needs.
The first of these studies is dedicated to the Ocean & Ice theme and has just been completed. This paper will present the main outcomes of this first study. In particular, it will cover the comprehensive user needs analysis which has been derived from Earth science analysis, applications and identification of novel data products. This process has identified a number of areas where support measurements from additional satellites would prove valuable e.g. ocean topography and ocean currents, ocean colour, sea surface salinity, sea-ice drift and thickness, sea-ice melt on-set and duration, snow accumulation on ice sheets, freeze and thaw cycles, snow albedo and the measurement of snow microphysical properties. Based on this analysis over ten mission convoy concepts were identified and subsequently three concepts were selected for detailed analysis:

  • A passive C-band SAR to fly with Sentinel-1
  • A laser altimeter to fly with Sentinel-3
  • A Ku-band Scatterometer to fly with Metop SG.
    The paper will conclude with the science benefits of the three selected concepts.