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Contract signed for Copernicus mission for environmental monitoring

on 21 December 2020

ESA and Thales Alenia Space signed a contract to develop the new high-priority Copernicus Radar Observation System for Europe in L-band (ROSE-L) environmental monitoring mission – as part of Europe’s Copernicus programme.

With launch planned in 2028, ROSE-L will provide continuous day-and-night all-weather monitoring of Earth’s land, oceans and ice, and offer frequent images at a high spatial resolution.

During its 7.5-year lifetime, the ROSE-L mission will realise new information that cannot be gathered by existing satellites or through other means. ROSE-L will deliver essential information on forests and land cover, leading to improved monitoring of the terrestrial carbon cycle and carbon accounting.

The mission will also greatly extend our ability to monitor minute surface displacements and helping detect geohazards. It will automatically map surface soil moisture conditions and monitor sea and land ice, greatly helping climate change research and mitigation.

From its 690 km polar orbit, ROSE-L will carry an active phased array synthetic aperture radar instrument. The radar antenna will be the largest planar antenna ever built measuring an impressive 11 metres by 3.6 metres – roughly the size of 10 ping-pong tables.

With a contract secured worth €482 million, Thales Alenia Space in Italy is the prime contractor for the mission, with Airbus Defence and Space in Germany responsible for the radar instrument. The industrial team includes 29 companies (including 15 SME’s) from 15 countries.

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Image credit: Thales Alenia Space