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New Collaboration Initiative:

ADVANCING EARTH OBSERVATION SCIENCE (AEOS), ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND SATELLITE SWARMS

The complexity of the environmental system on Earth requires a coordinated approach of various scientific disciplines. Based on successful collaborations in the past, the initiative Advancing Earth Observation Science (AEOS) has been established to assess the relevant physical, chemical, and biological processes by joining the expertise of different partners from the University of Bremen and worldwide. Special focus is placed on investigations to quantify the impact of human activity on the Earth system and to separate it from natural effects.

Figure 1:

Schematic diagram of the different domains of the Earth system

The first research aim of AEOS will be to exploit Earth observation data from existing and forthcoming satellite missions to derive accurate knowledge about changes in pollutant fluxes, ocean circulation, ice extent and thickness, for example. The knowledge gained will then be used to test and significantly improve Earth system models.
The second research aim of AEOS is the development of the technology required for the use of CubeSat swarms in Earth observation. This necessitates research on miniaturised sensors, electronics for space and swarm-based measurement methods. CubeSats will provide data with significantly higher spatial resolution and temporal sampling to better assess local changes in the environment and climate.
In addition, a third and long term aim of AEOS is to develop and fly a swarm mission with CubeSats as a proof of concept demonstrator for future Earth observation.

Figure 2:

Earth observation by present and future satellites

The AEOS collaboration is led by the Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) at the University of Bremen, which has more than three decades of experience in the development and use of remote sensing techniques from ground stations, ships, aircraft and satellite platforms. IUP has pioneered remote sensing of atmospheric composition (e.g. pollutants, greenhouse gases) with the IUP-led GOME and SCIAMACHY projects. Data from these missions provided the scientific basis for the development of parts of the ESA/EU Copernicus programme, i.e. Sentinel-4, -5P and -5 missions.Furthermore, IUP has internationally recognised expertise in oceanography, e.g. regarding the energy transfer between oceans and the atmosphere and the investigation of the origin and consequences of “arctic amplification”.

Figure 3:

Phase A model of a 2U-CubeSat used for preliminary tests of basic system properties