Telespazio UK awarded ESA contract for the early data assessment of non-ESA Earth Observation missions being considered for the ESA Earthnet Programme

14 November 2022

Telespazio UK has recently been awarded a two-year contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) for the Early Data Assessment Project (EDAP+).

This project continues the work of its predecessor, EDAP (2018-2021, also led by Telespazio UK), by performing an early data assessment covering specific calibration and validation related tasks on existing, new and future Earth Observation (EO) missions that fall into one of the following instrument domains:

  • Very High Resolution (VHR) & High Resolution (HR) Optical
  • VHR & HR Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
  • Atmospheric
  • Automatic Identification System (AIS) & Radio Frequency (RF)

In recent years, the EO capacity from space has grown with the availability of low-cost, small satellites and innovative constellations, resulting in an increasing number of commercial and institutional (including national space agencies) missions. These ‘New Space’ players are now playing an important role in the international EO market. The mission assessments performed by EDAP+ aim to support ESA with integrating non-ESA missions such as Third Party Missions (TPMs) into its Earthnet Programme and the overall ESA EO strategy. In doing so, and complementary to ESA-owned EO missions, the programme promotes international data access for the EO science community and supports the development of new research and applications.

Besides managing the EDAP+ service, Telespazio UK also provides the technical expertise to perform the early data quality assessments on missions in the Optical and AIS & RF domains.

Ally Barker, EO & Climate Marketing and Sales Manager at Telespazio UK, states: “We are delighted to be leading the ESA EDAP+ project and pleased to have the opportunity to assess more data types in this service. The expansion of this project to include assessment of RF and AIS data provides a key opportunity for New Space providers looking to become ESA TPMs and build trust in their products. Demonstrating the quality of these satellite data products helps support and encourage integration of these data sources into both institutional and commercial services.”

Complementary to the mission assessment activities, EDAP+ focuses on the provision of standardised best practise guidelines that reflect high level ideals for data quality and serve as a source of aspiration to commercial mission / data providers, including New Space.

In addition, specific multi-mission studies including Digital Elevation Model (DEM) assessments and inter-comparisons will be executed with the objective of facilitating future applications and allowing interoperability across missions. Within the two-year contract, the EDAP+ team will also provide scientific, technical and administrative support to ESA for the organisation of two VH-RODA workshops; an important forum that focuses on the different types and groups of EO mission sensors.

ESA’s Technical Officer, Clément Albinet, says: “The continuation of the Earthnet Data Assessment Project activities is based on the success of its predecessor which built bridges between ESA, industry and the scientific community on the topic of the Earth Observation data quality. It shows ESA's continuous commitment in supporting the European New Space industry.”

EDAP+ Consortium members: NPL (UK), Serco (Italy), Aresys (Italy), Telespazio (France), VisioTerra (France), FMI (Finland), SRON (Netherlands), University of Leicester (UK).

Image: PlanetScope. October 3 2022 – Hurricane Ian’s Aftermath, Gasparilla Sound, Florida.  PlanetScope was added to ESA’s TPM portfolio following assessment of the Dove, Dove-R and SuperDove missions by TPZ UK’s optical team during the first phase of the EDAP project.