Estonian scientists are leading fiducial reference measurements for Sentinel ocean colour

Riho Vendt, Tiia Lillemaa | 7.06.2016

On 26 May 2016 the kick-off meeting of ESA FRM4SOC project took place in ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

FRM4SOC kick-off Meeting ESTECis 2016.05.26

The scientists of Tartu Observatory will lead an international team that is working on fiducial reference measurements for Sentinel ocean colour during next two and a half years. The activities concentrate on measurement procedures and protocols, SI-traceable laboratory inter-comparison experiments in the new laboratories of Tartu Observatory, Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and sum up the results from both reference materials and field work in two different kind of international workshops for all target groups involved.

The technical officer of the project, Craig Donlon from ESA, said that the European Space Agency in cooperation with European Commission will launch eight satellites, which data reliability have to be confirmed by fiducial reference measurements on Earth. However, maintaining accurate and traceable ground-truth measurements is a major challenge for ocean-colour instruments, demanding detailed characterisation and extensive international collaboration. It is an important milestone and future oriented project for the technology development and Earth Observation applications. Estonia’s Tartu Observatory is now piloting new approaches to control the quality of measurements taken over the oceans by Sentinel-3’s ocean and land colour instrument.

Director of the Tartu Observatory, Anu Reinart, said, “This new project builds on international collaboration that goes back to when we were part of the validation team working on MERIS data from Envisat, so we feel that our skills and experience have certainly been acknowledged.

The FRM4SOC is the first ESA open call won by the consortium led by the Estonian institute. The high level research competence of Estonian scientists and the investments from European taxpayers to the laboratories of Tartu Observatory enable to show now their capacity in the international space collaboration. The partners of Tartu Observatory (Estonia) in this responsible work are the leading European research centres National Physical Laboratory and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK), Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (Belgium) and the experienced company ACRI-ST (France).

Their work involves developing measurement procedures and protocols, and traceable comparison experiments – both in the observatory’s laboratories and through work out at sea. 

Additional info:
Anu Reinart, Director of Tartu Observatory
anu.reinart@to.ee

Riho Vendt, FRM4SOC Project Manager
Head of Laboratories, Tartu Observatory
riho.vendt@to.ee

ESA news: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-3/Estonia_s_first_contract_with_ESA_focuses_on_ocean_health