Satellite Observations

In the last 30 years a large number of satellites, devoted to the observation and monitoring of the Earth atmosphere composition, have been developed. Satellite instruments enable the measurements of atmospheric composition over the whole globe and altitudes, from the boundary layer to the stratosphere.

Satellite measurements of atmospheric constituents collected by various space based platforms are used by ISAC researchers to complement the information gathered by the ground observatories. Satellite instruments also enable the observation of other planets of the solar system, contributing to the study of their origin and atmospheres. ISAC is part of the proposing team for the FORUM mission, recently selected by the ESA member states to be Earth Explorer 9 mission. FORUM will measure, for the first time, the far-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum from space (Outgoing Longwave Radiation).

ISAC is also strongly involved in the analysis and the exploitation of atmospheric data acquired by satellite instruments. In particular, it has developed and is developing innovative and advanced algorithms for the retrieval of the atmospheric composition by existing and past satellite instruments (e.g. MIPAS and AATSR on ENVISAT or SLSTR on Sentinel 3). The algorithms are also developed as scientific prototypes of the software used by the various space agencies (ESA, EUMETSAT) to obtain the officially released data of their satellites or to measure the atmospheric composition of the planets of the solar system (e.g., VIMS/Cassini to study Titan or JIRAM-Juno to study the atmosphere and aurorae of Jupiter). The results obtained with the sophisticated algorithms developed by ISAC enable to monitor the tropospheric and stratospheric composition evaluating their evolution with time and highlighting trends linked to human activities.

Research projects:

  • FORUM (“Far-infrared-Outogoing-Radiation Understanding and Monitoring”; funded by ESA
  • AIRWAVE-SLSTR (“Advanced Infra-Red WAter Vapour Estimator” for the for the Sentinel 3 SLSTR instrument; funded by EUMETSAT