May 18, 2010

ESA’s Space Hazard Program Profiled Online

A new section in the ESA web site highlights the Agency's growing activity related to the Space Situational Awareness program. The full SSA system will protect Europe's citizens and satellite-based services by detecting space hazards.

The Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme was authorized at the November 2008 ESA Ministerial Council and formally launched in 2009.

More than ever before, satellites provide critical services to European citizens, governments and industry. Any interruption would seriously affect an enormous range of activities, including travel, navigation, telecommunications, the Internet, broadcasting, defense, climate monitoring and weather forecasting, to name just a few. 

Flying unprotected

Today, Europe's satellites are 'flying unprotected' and there are no services available here to detect hazards from collisions with objects orbiting Earth or from space weather. Earth itself is at risk from potential strikes by meteoroids.

The full Space Situational Awareness (SSA) system will enable Europe to detect, predict and assess risks from these hazards and take action.

The objective of the SSA program is to support Europe's independent use of, and access to, space through the provision of timely and accurate information, data and services regarding the space environment, and particularly regarding hazards to infrastructure in orbit and on the ground.

Europe's SSA system will deliver services in three main areas: surveillance and tracking of objects in orbit, monitoring of space weather, and detection of near-Earth objects. SSA will provide rapid and precise information to satellite operators and to a wide range of civil, industrial and government users.


Image Caption: Control room at ESA's Optical Ground Station. Credits: ESA


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