ESA Earth Explorer 11 selects NOC-led ocean satellite mission idea for further study

Algae bloom in Baltic Sea, July 2019 Copernicus Sentinel-2 Credits: ESA CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The SEASTAR mission idea, led by The National Oceanography Centre (NOC), has been announced as one of four satellite concepts selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to proceed to the next stage of the Earth Explorer 11 programme.

SEASTAR is the only ocean mission to be selected for EE11. Its scientific objectives are to provide new observations of small-scale ocean surface dynamics in coastal seas, continental shelf seas and Marginal Ice Zones. Using highly innovative squinted along-track interferometry, SEASTAR would deliver, for the first time, two-dimensional images of the total ocean surface current vectors and wind vectors at an unprecedented 1 km resolution and high accuracy. For the first time, accurate high-order products like vorticity, strain and divergence would be available from space, making it possible to explore the relations between ocean sub-mesoscale/mesoscale circulation, air-sea interactions, vertical exchanges with the ocean interior and the link with marine productivity.

Professor Christine Gommenginger, Leader of Satellite Oceanography at the NOC, and principal investigator for SEASTAR says: “We are absolutely delighted that SEASTAR is going forward to the next stage of Earth Explorer 11. The ESA Earth Explorer programme drives scientific excellence and technological innovation in Earth Observation in Europe and it is a privilege to be part of this prestigious programme.”

SEASTAR will now enter Phase 0 to study feasibility and further increase scientific and technical readiness levels. If successful through Phase 0 and Phase A studies, SEASTAR would be launched in the 2031–2 timeframe.

Read more on the ESA website