Father of ERS wins Nobel prize in physics

Thu, 07 Oct 2021 07:30:00 GMT
ESA Top News

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded a share of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics to...

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded a share of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics to Klaus Hasselmann in acknowledgment of his contribution to 'the physical modelling of Earth's climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming'.

Among Prof. Hasselmann's long list of outstanding achievements, ESA also recognises him as one of the 'fathers' of ESA's first Earth observation mission, ERS-1, which has been key to understanding our changing planet and which paved the way to modern techniques in observing Earth from space.

ESA Director General, Josef Aschbacher, said, "We send our most sincere congratulations to Prof. Dr Hasselmann for his well-deserved Nobel prize. Klaus joined one of ESA's external expert groups of scientists in the 1970s, and in 1981 became a member of our High-Level Earth Observation Advisory Committee. He provided outstanding scientific support and recommendations to ESA, in particular on the development of the ERS-1 and ERS-2 missions."

ESA's first Earth observation mission dedicated to understanding our planet, the European Remote Sensing satellite, was launched on 17 July 1991 - just over 30 years ago.

These pioneering missions have provided the basis for the routine remote sensing we have come to rely upon today to unravel the complexities of the way Earth works.

The success of the ERS missions has helped Europe to gain clear leadership in several critical technologies and in the scientific use of Earth observation.

Prof. Hasselmann developed the theory underlying synthetic aperture imaging of ocean waves.

A series of experiments to understand ocean waves followed, and the preparations for ERS-1 resulted in a series of key reports and results.

The synthetic aperture imaging theory led to 2D wave spectra from the Active Microwave Instrument on ERS-1, and the use of these wave spectra products in the ocean models.

Dr Aschbacher continued, "Without doubt, it is largely thanks to Prof. Hasselmann that we have operational wave monitoring, or 'wave mode' from Sentinel-1 today - a source of essential data for ocean forecasting, keeping maritime traffic safe."

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