Optimal operation of an earth observation mission means that the science specifications have been met in a way that insures the generation of high quality measurement data. Close interaction between scientists and operations staff plays an important role by assuring that on the one hand the strict requirements of the operational world can be met, and on the other hand that operations can be flexibly modified at any time.
This is the precisely the department approach regarding the atmosphere sensor SCIAMACHY. The special status of SCIAMACHY as an instrument provided by Germany for the ENVISAT mission led already early in the development phase to a sharing of duties between DLR/NIVR (the Netherlands agency for aerospace programs) and ESA. As part of this agreement, DLR is responsible for establishing operations support capabilities at IMF and IUP/IFE (the institute of the SCIAMACHY Principal Investigator at Bremen University) for functions not already specified in industrial contracts. Ever since that time, all the tasks required to assist ESA (ESOC in Darmstadt for daily routine operation and ESRIN in Frascati for the planning) to successfully operate SCIAMACHY on the ENVISAT satellite have been performed by these partners in close cooperation. IMF is responsible for the systems-related activities, which include:
In the course of the mission it has become evident that this kind of operations support can also yield significant contributions to algorithm and processor development. This is especially the case for the IMF Atmospheric Processors department, which performs important tasks related to both functions. The work being carried out for SCIAMACHY can accordingly be regarded as a model for similar activities related to other atmosphere missions.