Earth observation missions

ESA has been dedicated to observing Earth from space ever since the launch of its first Meteosat weather satellite back in 1977. With the launch of a range of different types of satellites over the last 40 years, we are better placed to understand the complexities of our planet, particularly with respect to global change. Today’s satellites are used to forecast the weather, answer important Earth-science questions, provide essential information to improve agricultural practices, maritime safety, help when disaster strikes, and all manner of everyday applications.

The need for information from satellites is growing at an ever-increasing rate. With ESA as world-leader in Earth observation, the Agency remains dedicated to developing cutting-edge spaceborne technology to further understand the planet, improve daily lives and support effect policy-making for a more sustainable future.

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Aeolus

Wind mission
From 2018

Biomass

Forest mission
From 2020

Copernicus Sentinel-1

Radar vision
2014–present

Copernicus Sentinel-2

Colour vision
2015–present

Copernicus Sentinel-3

Bigger picture
2016–present

Copernicus Sentinel-4

European air monitoring
From 2020

Copernicus Sentinel-5

Global air monitoring
From 2021

Copernicus Sentinel-5P

Global air monitoring
2017–present

Copernicus Sentinel-6

Surfing the seas
From 2020

CryoSat

Ice mission
2010–present

EarthCARE

Cloud and aerosol mission
From 2019

Envisat

Environmental monitoring
2002–12

ERS

European Remote Sensing
1991–2011 

FLEX

Fluorescence mission
From 2022 

GOCE

Gravity mission
2009–13 

Meteosat series

Weather satellites
1977–2017

MetOp series

Weather satellites
2006–present

MetOp-SG series

Weather satellites
From 2021

MSG series

Weather satellites
2002–present

MTG series

Weather satellites
From 2021

Proba-1

Technology demonstrator
2001–present

Proba-V

Vegetation monitoring
2013–present

SMOS

Water mission
2009–present

Swarm

Magnetic field mission
2013–present

Third Party Missions

ESA uses its multi-mission ground systems and expertise to acquire, process, distribute and archive data from other satellites –
known as Third Party Missions.

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