Ride into space on Vega-C secured for FLEX and Altius

Wed, 12 Jan 2022 02:01:11 GMT
Space Daily

Paris (ESA) Jan 12, 2022 A contract signed with Arianespace secures the joint launch for two...

Scheduled to lift off on a new class of rocket, ESA's Vega-C, from Europe's Spaceport in mid-2025, FLEX will yield new information about the health of the world's plants and Altius will deliver profiles of ozone and other trace gases in the upper atmosphere to support services such as weather forecasting.

Earth Explorers, which are pivotal to ESA's FutureEO programme, are built to show how pioneering space technology can return novel information about how our planet works as a system and to better understand our rapidly changing world.

FLEX will help address one of our biggest challenges: understanding the health of Earth's vegetation, which is critical to improve food security.

Carrying a novel instrument called the Fluorescence Imaging Spectrometer, FLEX will measure this fluorescent signal to shed new light on the functioning of our vegetation.

Altius is a smaller class satellite, but it will fill a very important gap in the continuation of 'limb' measurements for atmospheric science.

Carrying an instrument that images in the ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared channels, the Atmospheric Limb Tracker for Investigation of the Upcoming Stratosphere, or Altius for short, will measure both stratospheric ozone and other atmospheric trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide and aerosols that affect air quality.

As its name suggests, Altius will not look straight down on Earth, but will observe the atmosphere along Earth's horizon.

The contract, now signed with Arianespace, ensures passage into space for these precious satellite missions from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

While the contract to launch FLEX and Altius assumes they will be launched on the same rocket in mid-2025, there is provision for alternative shared launches should there be a drift in the timing of their relative development processes.

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