CEOS Feasibility Study for Aquatic Ecosystem EO Mission

Design Considerations for a (non-oceanic) Aquatic Ecosystem Earth Observing System

Results of a Committee on Earth Observing Satellites feasibility Study

Presented by Professor Arnold Dekker

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Abstract

Many earth observing sensors have been designed, built and launched for either terrestrial or ocean R&D or applications. Often these are also used for doing freshwater, estuarine and coastal water, bathymetry and benthic mapping. However these land and ocean sensors are not designed for these complex aquatic environments and consequently do not perform as well as a dedicated sensor would.  As a Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) action CSIRO (Australia) and DLR (Germany) with 10 other international space agency related experts, have taken the lead on a feasibility assessment to determine the benefits and technological difficulties of designing an Earth observing mission focused on the biogeochemistry of inland, estuarine, deltaic and near coastal waters as well as mapping macrophytes, macro-­algae, sea grasses and coral reefs. These environments need higher spatial resolution that current and planned ocean colour images offer and need higher spectral resolution than current and planned land earth observing sensors offer (with the exception of several R&D type imaging spectrometry satellite  missions). The GEO Community of Practice Aquawatch suggested that alternative approaches, involving augmenting designs of spaceborne sensors for terrestrial and ocean colour applications to allow improved inland, near coastal waters and benthic applications, could offer an alternative pathway to addressing the same underlying science questions. Accordingly, this study also analysed the benefits and technological difficulties of this option. The design specifications for spectral, spatial, radiometric and temporal resolution may very well be very useful for other applications such as agriculture, forestry, bare soils, minerals etc.

The EOA community is invited to reflect on these possibilities as the outcomes of the report will be discussed at a CEOS meeting in the Sep to Dec 2018 time-frame.