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Mission study of 'CLOUDS' - a cloud and radiation monitoring satellite.


The proposal originates from the continuing and increasing requirements of the meteorological and climatological communities, both scientific and operational, for more detailed and accurate information on cloud structures and the associated radiative parameters. Due to the global scale of those requirements and to the fractal nature of the field to be observed, which implies the need for sampling with space continuity (i.e. imagery), satellites provide the only suitable observing platforms. It is considered that suitable observing techniques are available to perform the required measurements from space. However, the analysis of scenario shows that current and planned space systems do not meet the anticipated requirements. Therefore, the objective of this proposal is to study the mission of a new satellite to provide accurate, comprehensive, consistent and frequent information on clouds and radiation to be used by operational and research centres for the purpose of improved climate and weather forecasting. The analysis of scenario also shows that space missions for process study are being run and continue to be planned, whilst the largest gap in both current and planned activities is in the field of monitoring. Therefore, also taking into account the EC service-oriented policy, the objective focuses towards a monitoring mission.
Associated to the mission objective of monitoring clouds and associated radiative parameteres, there is a strategic objective of extending, with the help of the EC for the initial phases envisaged in this proposal, the overall European service of climate monitoring from space, beyond what is achievable by the instrumentation presently foreseen for the METOP and MSG missions being developed by ESA and EUMETSAT. To play a role in the initialisation phase of a process which might lead to an Earth watch programme, seems to be extremely appropriate to the EC, according to Communication COM(96) 617 dated 4.12.1997 Section 7. Finally, there is also a technological objective: to aim at a small-medium size satellite to meet sustainability requirements as necessary to provide long-term service continuity.
The preliminary analysis of user requirements and available space technology seems to indicate that it is feasible to meet the requirements by relatively conservative instruments, all passive thus suitable for frequent global coverage, provided that the full electromagnetic spectrum from UV to very-high frequency microwaves is exploited, and that more polarisations are used, and more viewing geometries. The work programme includes: to consolidate the information on user requirements; to derive mission requirements and corresponding instrument and system requirements; to carry out a pre-phase A industrial study to perform trade-offs and define a baseline system; to evaluate the instrument performances and derive product performances; to assess the impact of the envisaged products on climate and weather prediction models; to iterate on the mission, instrument and system requirements; to carry out a full phase A industrial study to demonstrate feasibility and define the system-level design; to reevaluate the expected product performances and impact; and to prepare all elements (including a market analysis) in support of a proposal for a possible follow-on. Preliminary estimates carried out on the basis of relevant existing or planned instrumentation seem to indicate that data will have sufficient quality as to generate substantial benefits. If this is confirmed, the results of the study could be used as preparatory to a follow-on Earth watch programme based on the cooperation among the EC, ESA, EUMETSAT, co-financing industries, laboratories and end users.
The proposing Partners include industries specialised in space instrumentation and systems, laboratories specialised in the promotion and use of satellite data and in defining and implementing space instrumentation, and end users both operational (in climate and weather prediction) and specialised in theory of the climate dynamics. A User Advisory Group will be associated to re-enforce the end-user aspect.

Call for proposal

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Alenia Aerospazio Un'Azienda Finmeccanica SpA
Via saccomuro 24
00131 Roma

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EU contribution
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Participants (11)