The next generation of ESA Earth Observation satellites include a series of ‘Sentinel Missions’ to be developed and operated with the framework of GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). These will include SAR and Optical satellites with new imaging configurations and spectral bands, and much improved capabilities for frequent repeat coverage.
The AGRISAR 2006 campaign was collecting in-situ, airborne SAR and optical measurements in support of decisions being taken on satellite instrument configurations for the first Sentinel Missions, as well as providing an important database for the study of longer term mission concepts.
Agricultural and land use mapping are important applications for the new satellites and the test site selected for AGRISAR 2006 is in the Demmin area of north-east Germany where there is a well established research arrangement working with practising farmers. Ground data collection activities on the site where detailed measurements of plant and soil parameters are obtained. Ground radiometer measurements were also carried out.
The DLR E-SAR airborne radar system was used to acquire SAR data at X-, C- and L-Band, and in polarimetric SAR and interferometric SAR modes. A total of 16 flights were carried out over the main growing season from April to August, to provide the frequent repeat coverage which is an important feature of the new Sentinel SAR satellites.