With two concepts currently vying to be ESA’s ninth Earth Explorer mission, a field experiment is underway off the west coast of France to further develop one of the mission’s measuring techniques.
Deploying moorings from the Thalia research vessel. (L. Marié)
The field campaign focuses on the Sea-surface Kinematics Multiscale monitoring (SKIM) candidate.
If selected, the satellite would carry a novel wide-swath scanning multibeam radar to measure ocean-surface currents. Uniquely, it would use a novel Doppler technique, which offers more direct measurements than conventional satellite altimeters.
Moored bouys in position ready for action. (L. Marié)
These new measurements would improve our understanding of vertical and horizontal ocean-surface dynamics over the global ocean every few days. This would lead to better knowledge of the ocean circulation in the equatorial regions, which is difficult to measure using other satellite techniques, and how the ocean and atmosphere interact – for example, how atmospheric carbon dioxide is drawn down into the ocean.
Since the mission aims to carry new technology, scientists and engineers have to demonstrate that if it is launched, it will provide the measurements as promised.
Ready to fly. (ESA)
As part of this process, scientists from a number of organisations have ...