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Ministers Boost ESA’s Budgets for New Satellite Missions

An unprecedented high budget for ESA’s Earth Observation Programme – a win for environmental science.

The European Space Agency’s ambitious new plans for space were welcomed last week by Research Ministers. The Space19+ Ministerial Conference held in Seville, Spain brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.

ESA Member States increased their total budget commitments to €12.5 billion for the next 3 years, with particular focus on Earth observation, which saw an increase in its subscriptions to €2.59 billion – 108 percent of the requested funding.

This is an unprecedented high budget for Earth Observation Programmes, and means that ESA’s recommended expansion of the Copernicus programme will go ahead, with added extras, for the six candidate missions under development. In total it will support 11 new missions, to address topics that have a particular emphasis on climate change, the Arctic, and Africa.

“It is an excellent result for ESA and an amazing result for the Earth Observation Programme,” said ESA Director, Josef Aschbacher, adding that it “demonstrates the great attractiveness of Copernicus to our Member States.”

Germany is ESA’s largest contributor, providing 22.9 percent of the budget (3.3 billion euro), followed by France (18.5 percent), Italy (15.9 percent), and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent).

The Copernicus programme, headed by the European Commission in partnership with ESA, is based on a suite of satellites called Sentinels whose open data for atmospheric, oceanic, and land monitoring have had a huge impact on environmental research and commercial applications since the first data became available in 2014.

The improvements to Copernicus are good news for Future Earth’s research community, and will ensure continued and improving access to high-quality, global datasets monitoring changes across the planet. Future Earth partners with the ESA to encourage innovative ways of using satellite Earth observation data to support transformations towards sustainability. The partnership strengthens Future Earth’s links with the Earth observation and climate communities and ensures that ESA’s strategic direction is guided by robust science from Future Earth.

The expansion of the Sentinel system will cover six high-priority candidate Copernicus missions, including the CO2M constellation to track anthropogenic emissions of CO2, LSTM, a high resolution land surface temperature mission; CHIME: a visible to shortwave infrared spectrometer that will provide routine hyperspectral observations to complement Sentinel-2 and support new and enhanced services for sustainable agricultural and biodiversity management; and ROSE-L: an L-band SAR to support of forest management, monitor subsidence and soil moisture and to discriminate crop types.

For further information please visit the Space19+ blog.