Science.-ESA Bets On Harmony Earth Observation Mission


Science.-ESA Bets On Harmony Earth Observation Mission

Madrid, February 24, 2021 (Europa Press) –

The European Space Agency has chosen to develop Project Harmony from among three candidate Earth Explorer missions, dedicated to understanding aspects of the Earth system and their interactions.

Harmony was envisioned as a mission with two satellites orbiting in formation with one of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites to address major scientific questions related to ocean, ice, and land dynamics.

Three concepts, Daedalus, Harmony (previously called Steroid) and Hydroterra (formerly called G-Class), spent the last two years under scrutiny for their scientific, technical and budgetary viability as the European Space Agency’s tenth Earth exploration mission.

This step has now culminated in the approval of the European Space Agency’s proposal by the European Space Agency’s Program Board for Earth Observations (PB-EO), based on the recommendation of the ACEO.) And its own assessment that coherence should be implemented into the next phase of the study, The European Space Agency advises.

This phase, Phase A, includes a further feasibility assessment after a detailed definition of the system, including satellite platform design and tools, flight operations, technological developments and the best way to exploit the data.

The Harmony concept consisted of two identical satellites flying in a convoy with the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite. Each Harmony satellite is designed to carry only an AI radar receiver as its primary instrument.

Working with the Sentinel-1 radar, Harmony will provide data to measure small changes in the Earth’s surface shape, such as those related to earthquakes and volcanic activity, thus contributing to monitoring hazards. It would also allow to study the three-dimensional deformation and flow dynamics of glaciers in rapidly changing marginal regions of the ice sheets for a better understanding of sea level rise.

Both Harmony satellites will also carry a multi-beam thermal infrared instrument, which in the presence of clouds will allow to accurately measure the drag motions at altitude. In the absence of clouds, the multi-ray thermal infrared instrument will measure differences in sea surface temperature.

Harmony will also be the first to provide data to improve our understanding of air – ocean surface interactions by providing simultaneous measurements of wind, waves and currents, which will work in conjunction with measurements of the thermal differences of the sea surface and cloud motion. It allows unprecedented visibility to the maritime airspace layer.

At its core, Harmony addresses key science questions in many areas. His observation concept allows for unique measurements on time scales ranging from tens of milliseconds (to measure ocean currents) to years (to measure the motion of the Earth’s solid surface).

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