Alongside communications and navigation, earth observation constitutes the third main purpose of satellite-based services. In this connection, the main aspect entails an imaging system based on passive remote exploration in the visual and infrared spectrum as well as active radar observation.
The principal applications include monitoring specific regions and oceans and observing weather conditions and the composition of the atmosphere.
A still young technology offering greater potential for the future, hyperspectral sensors measure the electromagnetic spectrum on an ongoing narrowband basis, thus providing a new dimension in the quality of geodata evaluation. In this way, it is possible to identify surface materials with a great deal of precision on the basis of their unique spectral signatures.
OHB System has been working on earth observation systems for over a decade and is committed to encouraging their commercial exploitation. OHB projects cover design and testing models as well as satellite development and operation and data utilization.
Thus, the platform for the EnMAP (Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program) satellite is being built by OHB System as part of the earth observation program conducted by the German Space Agency (DLR). Using the five successful SAR-Lupe satellites as a basis, the platform is being modified to accommodate the new kind of hyperspectral instrument. The satellite and the instrument are being developed by OHB System, Munich site (formerly Kayser-Threde).
OHB System is contributing the SmallGEO platform to the third-generation European MeteoSat program (MTG), which is being developed by ESA and will be operated by EUMETSAT. SmallGEO is being developed for the telecommunications market for ESA and is now also to carry instruments for operational earth observation.
The Company is also involved in GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), the largest earth observation program being pursued by the European Union and the European Space Agency ESA. Specifically, it is configuring satellites currently in use (Sentinel-1) and developing the next generation of Sentinel satellites (see GMES complementary missions).
In the climate observation area, which is currently of crucial importance in efforts to measure concentrations of greenhouse gases, OHB System is working on satellites which will measure emissions of CO2 and methane with great precision on a global basis (see CarbonSat).
Using as a basis the experience gained from the development of the SAR-Lupe satellite constellation, OHB System is offering systems for commercial and institutional high-resolution earth observation in the visible, infrared and radar segments.