[Press and Public Relations] Sensors in the Sky


Press Release No 45

pic of Envisat satellite

Satellite Launched on March 1:
The University of Leicester Space Research Centre is a major partner in a project hailed in the Financial Times as 'The largest and most advanced satellite ever built to monitor the Earth's changing environment'

The Envisat satellite, launched on Friday 1 March, will relay to Earth information on environmental changes including global warming, ozone layer depletion, earthquakes, volcanoes and floods.

The 1.4 billion project has been developed over the last ten years and is backed by the European Space Agency with Canada. Weighing 8.2 tonnes, it is 10m high and the size of an articulated lorry. It will orbit 800km above Earth for five years and will relay its data continuously to scientists across Europe.

Professor of Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester Space Research Centre, David Llewellyn-Jones, said:  "We have a strong involvement in three of the ten sensors in Envisat, which is almost unprecedented for a University. The AATSR satellite will measure the temperature of the Earth's surface very precisely and continuously, so we can detect global warming, determine its magnitude and see how it is distributed, including those parts of the world that are becoming cooler as a result of global warming."

Professor Lewellyn-Jones is the principal investigator of the AATSR project and is responsible for ensuring it achieves its objectives. Throughout the entire project of building the AATSR he has been providing guidance and advice to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. His Leicester colleague, Dr Marianne Edwards, will co-ordinate validation of its accuracy worldwide.

Dr John Remedios is a member of the Expert Support Laboratory for MIPAS, while Dr Paul Monks in the Department of Chemistry is a member of the SCIAMACHY Science Advisory Group. Both MIPAS and SCIAMACHY address issues of pollution in the atmosphere, particularly their impact on ozone destruction, through measurements at different wavelengths of light; the MIPAS exploits infrared radiation whilst SCIAMACHY observes the ultra-violet/visible region. Dr John Remedios said "It is vital for us to be able to observe ozone changes in the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere, at a critical time for recovery as CFC emissions from human activities being to decrease. These changes are being studied through a major European project led by Leicester, MAPSCORE, which seeks to observe ozone loss over the region of Europe during winter/spring."

The Envisat launch from Kourou in French Guiana will take place at 1 am GMT on Friday 1 March.  The University of Leicester scientists involved will then take part in a breakfast meeting at the National Space Centre, where school children will see a movie of the launch and can talk about it to University experts in Leicester and - through a direct communications link - to Lord Sainsbury at the Science Museum in London.

Note to editors: Further information on the University of Leicester Space Research Centre's involvement with Envisat is available from Professor David Llewellyn-Jones, Head of Earth Observation Science, telephone 0116 252 5238 or Dr John Remedios, telephone 0116 252 1319, email: j.j.remedios@le.ac.uk


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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 14 March 2002 10:16
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