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Introduction - ERS 1 & 2

In response to worldwide concern about changes in the earth's environment and the environmental impact of human activities the European Space Agency (ESA), undertook the ERS Programme to promote further understanding of the Earth's processes, with special emphasis on ocean and ice themes.

The project also took particular interest in remote locations such as the polar regions and southern oceans, for which little information was then available.


The two ERS satellites carry several instruments designed to complement each other in providing high quality scientific data to support environmental research.
  • ERS 1
  • ERS 2
  • Coherence (images produced from ERS 1 & ERS 2)
It was hoped that the data generated would advance scientific understanding in many fields including agriculture, forestry, geology, glaciology, oceanography, pollution studies (such as tracking oil slicks), ship detection and monitoring snow and ice studies.


The instrument used to generate the radar remote sensing data is the AMI-SAR, Active Microwave Instrumentation-Synthetic Aperture Radar. This instrument emits microwaves towards earth and then registers their reflection, providing cloud-free radar images.

The satellites orbit the Earth in about 100 minutes and in 35 days cover nearly every corner of the globe at least once. Both satellites are still in good health and provide a wealth of observations through their excellent suite of instruments. versatile and efficient instrument for the Earth's land surface and surrounding environmental monitoring.