Home > Airbus Defence and Space: a long history of Earth observation & climate monitoring missions

Airbus Defence and Space: a long history of Earth observation & climate monitoring missions

Space has become an undisputed diagnostic tool for detecting climatic and environmental changes on a planetary scale. More than half of the essential climate variables are measured from space. Airbus Defence and Space creates the technology that makes it possible.

Our involvement:

  • 27 Airbus built satellites already launched have direct or indirect applications for climate change monitoring, with more than 200 years accumulated in orbit experience.
  • There are a further 18 satellites in development, including our last contracts: MERLIN (methane detection) and Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (global sea-surface height measurement).
  • For the Copernicus space segment, Airbus is involved in all seven missions, as the prime contractor of five and responsible for instruments on Sentinel-1 and -3.
  • ESA’s Earth Explorer programme delivers scientific Earth Omesbservation data to the scientific community.



Our role in ESA’s Earth Explorer Programme 

Prime contractor of 4 out of 6 satellites and delivering key instruments:

  • CryoSAT-2: Measures the ice coverage at the Earth’s poles
  • SWARM: 3 satellite constellation to measure the magnetic field
  • Aeolus: First ever wind profiles
  • Earthcare: Cloud and aerosol monitoring



EUMETSAT Meteorological Satellites

  • Delivering long term accurate weather forecasting takes a unique satellite programme
  • Identical datasets must be available over long timescales which leads to mission requirements of identical satellites launched in sequence
  • MetOp Europe’s low-earth orbiting satellites for details weather data
  • Three MetOp satellites were built together – today MetOp A & B are in orbit. MetOp C is in storage. The programme is planned until 2022
  • The MetOp Second Generation satellite programme is already in development so it is ready to take over from 2020
  • 6 satellites, 2 different models launched sequentially to give 21 years of operations
  • The engineering challenges of building identical satellites and successfully storing them has been mastered by Airbus Defence and Space



Geo-Intelligence, satellite imagery and geo-solutions

Climate Change: Drivers for larger and long term use of satellite imagery are there

  • New and more stringent regulations & policies
  • International negotiations & monetisation of ecosystems
  • Land use conflicts and increasing demand for certified „commodities“
  • Risk mitigation to attract investors (public & private)
  • Increased vulnerability due to frequent and severe climatic events

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