A significant leap in Earth Observation technology
In a remarkable stride towards advancing Earth Earth Observation (EO) technology, the European Space Agency (ESA) embarks on the CIMR L2PAD project, scheduled to span four years from 2023 to 2027. The primary objective of this project is the development of a Level-2 ground prototype processor for the forthcoming Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR) satellite, set for launch in the late 2020s. The prototype processor will pave the way for the scientific and operational exploitation of the data acquired by the CIMR satellite.
A fusion of research and implementation
The CIMR L2PAD (Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer Level 2 Prototype and Algorithm Development) initiative represents a fusion of research and the meticulous documentation of geophysical retrieval algorithms in Algorithm Theoretical Basis Documents (ATBDs), which will subsequently be implemented within a comprehensive Level-2 ground processor prototype (GPP). The GPP's design and implementation will play a pivotal role in the successful execution of the project.
“A distinguishing feature of the CIMR L2PAD project is to aim at transparent and reproducible science by opening data and software as early as possible. The ATBDs will be developed as web pages based on the JupyterBook technology, and all the software will be open-source. Such an Open-Source Science approach was at the core of the work described by ESA”, says Thomas Lavergne (picture) from MET Norway.
One of the challenges for the CIMR L2PAD team will be to validate the algorithms with simulated data, since the CIMR satellite is yet to be launched. This validation process aims to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the algorithms that will be deployed in the ground segment.
The scope of the CIMR L2PAD project is extensive, encompassing 20 geophysical parameters, including sea ice (across multiple variables), sea surface temperature, salinity, ocean wind, land snow, soil moisture, and vegetation. Given the breadth of this endeavour, it was imperative to assemble a consortium of experts and organisations from Europe and beyond.
Consortium mixed compositions for best results
The consortium, led by the Meteorological Institute (MET), includes 12 partners, primarily from Europe, with one Canadian partner. The consortium's composition features a mix of research institutions, universities, and private IT firms, such as Deimos Romania and Science & Technologies Norway, to provide a well-rounded expertise pool. This collaboration underlines the significance of public-private partnerships in advancing space research and technology.
ESA, renowned for its meticulous planning, has provided the CIMR L2PAD project with a highly detailed work plan, replete with numerous reports and milestones. The project is being overseen by the department at ESA located in ESRIN, Italy, responsible for developing and managing ground segments for many EO satellites, including e.g. CryoSat, SMOS, Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, Sentinel-3, CRISTAL, and CIMR.
Kick-off in November
The project's commencement meeting is anticipated to take place in the latter part of November 2023. The initial three months of the project are expected to be highly intensive, involving the preparation of over 20 draft ATBDs and the design documentation for the GPP.
“CIMR L2PAD will for sure be an exciting project. It is also a lot of responsibility because the Copernicus users have high expectations for the CIMR mission. We are thrilled to have been selected and are looking forward to supporting the CIMR mission and its future users.”, says Thomas Lavergne.