4. May 2022
Initial data demonstrate the performance of the hyperspectral instrument

Ger­man En­MAP en­vi­ron­men­tal satel­lite de­liv­ers first im­ages

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Space
EnMAP – one image, a wealth of information
En­MAP – one im­age, a wealth of in­for­ma­tion
Image 1/3, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

EnMAP – one image, a wealth of information

The Ger­man En­MAP en­vi­ron­men­tal satel­lite has im­aged a strip ap­prox­i­mate­ly 30 kilo­me­tres wide and 180 kilo­me­tres long over Is­tan­bul, Turkey, with its hy­per­spec­tral in­stru­ment. These three sec­tions are each ap­prox­i­mate­ly 30 kilo­me­tres by 54 kilo­me­tres and show the Bosporus, where the Eu­ro­pean con­ti­nent meets the Asian con­ti­nent. The left im­age shows a true-colour rep­re­sen­ta­tion, which rough­ly cor­re­sponds to hu­man colour per­cep­tion, with this area be­ing scanned by the VNIR cam­era with al­most 50 in­di­vid­u­al fine chan­nels. The mid­dle im­age is a false colour im­age from the VNIR cam­era. In the near in­frared, dif­fer­ences in veg­e­ta­tion be­come vis­i­ble, which are re­lat­ed to the plant species and their con­di­tion, such as their biomass and chloro­phyll con­tent. The im­age on the right was tak­en with the SWIR cam­era in the short-wave in­frared. Here, spe­cial fea­tures in the soil such as clays and in the rock, such as lime, can be iden­ti­fied and con­clu­sions drawn about soil fer­til­i­ty.
Chlorophyll concentration in the Bosporus
Chloro­phyll con­cen­tra­tion in the Bosporus
Image 2/3, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Chlorophyll concentration in the Bosporus

En­MAP has mea­sured the chloro­phyll den­si­ty in the Bosporus with its hy­per­spec­tral in­stru­ment. The strait be­tween Eu­rope and Asia con­nects the Black Sea with the Sea of Mar­mara and is a busy sea lane. The chloro­phyll con­cen­tra­tion is very pro­nounced in the red ar­eas and in­di­cates strong al­gal growth.
One pixel – many spectra
One pix­el – many spec­tra
Image 3/3, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

One pixel – many spectra

En­MAP records many pix­els with its hy­per­spec­tral in­stru­ment. For each 2D pix­el in the fi­nal im­age, there are many spec­tral pro­files that give us im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion about dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als, such as plants, con­crete or wa­ter, and their state.
  • The German Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP) satellite has delivered its first images, one month after launch.
  • The mission is managed by the German Space Agency at DLR in Bonn on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).
  • OHB System AG was contracted to develop and build the satellite and the hyperspectral instruments. The German Research Centre for Geosciences (GeoForschungsZentrum; GFZ) in Potsdam is the scientific lead for the mission.
  • Focus: Space, Earth observation, climate change, environmental protection and nature conservation

The German Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP) satellite, which is managed by the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Bonn on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), has spent roughly one month in space since its launch on 1 April 2022. It has now delivered its first high-resolution satellite images. Following the successful completion of the mission’s Launch and Early Orbit Phase, the individual subsystems of the highly complex hyperspectral instrument were put into operation piece by piece under the control of the German Space Operations Center (GSOC). EnMAP has now imaged a strip approximately 30 kilometres wide and 180 kilometres long over Istanbul on the Bosporus, Turkey, where Europe meets Asia and sent the data down to Earth via the DLR ground station in Neustrelitz.

"The first data from EnMAP have demonstrated what the German environmental satellite is capable of," says a delighted Sebastian Fischer, EnMAP Project Manager at the German Space Agency at DLR. The mission is still in its first phase, in which the hyperspectral instrument is being calibrated and precisely adjusted. "But these first images already give us a very good idea of what researchers around the world can expect. They show that EnMAP can make a major contribution to highlighting the consequences of climate change and counteracting the ongoing destruction of the environment."

The first images from the EnMAP environmental satellite
The hyperspectral satellite EnMAP has delivered its first Earth observation images. Project Manager Sebastian Fischer explains the images and the conclusions that can already be drawn from them.
Credit: German Space Agency at DLR

The first data were received by the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) and the DLR Remote Sensing Technology Institute, which also process and archive the images. The data that the satellite sends to Earth cannot be utilised directly by end users. Only when they are further processed – when they are calibrated, provided with position and attitude data and the influences of the atmosphere are corrected – can users draw quantitative and qualitative conclusions from the products. The calibration of these first images was carried out using data measured by the instrument in the laboratory as a reference. During the commissioning phase, which lasts six months, these calibrations will be optimised for the characteristics of the instrument in orbit and the data quality will be further improved.

First EnMAP images make the invisible visible to our eyes

But what can we actually see in the EnMAP images? Every material on Earth's surface reflects sunlight in a characteristic way, leaving behind a spectral signature. EnMAP can recognise, distinguish and image this 'colour fingerprint' with the help of its measuring instrument. Thus, the mission's motto is 'Our Earth in more than just colour', because each EnMAP image is divided into a great many small wavelength ranges – many more than our eyes can perceive. "The high quality of the data in all channels is clearly visible in typical spectra, such as for vegetation, and in low noise and disturbing image stripes in the extensive dynamic range, which is particularly evident in dark areas such as water. Based on this initial data, researchers at the DLR Earth Observation Center (EOC) were already able to derive preliminary results on the distribution of 'chlorophyll a' concentration at the water surface after atmospheric correction and by means of inverse modelling," adds Tobias Storch, Project Manager of the EnMAP ground segment at the EOC.

EnMAP – the German environmental mission and its partners

The EnMAP mission is being managed by the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Bonn on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz; BMWK). OHB System AG was contracted to develop and build the satellite and the hyperspectral instruments. The German Research Centre for Geosciences (GeoForschungsZentrum; GFZ) in Potsdam is the science Principal Investigator for the mission.

Three DLR institutes and facilities have been commissioned for the construction and operation of the ground segment. The German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen will conduct and monitor satellite operations, while the German Remote Sensing Data Center and the DLR Remote Sensing Technology Institute will archive, process and validate the received satellite data and make them available to the scientific community. Companies and public authorities will also test the data and use them to prepare future services. The use of EnMAP hyperspectral data by universities and scientific institutions and the development of special applications will be supported by BMWK funding programmes.

Contact
  • Martin Fleischmann
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ger­man Space Agen­cy at DLR
    Strat­e­gy and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
    Telephone: +49 228 447-120
    Fax: +49 228 447-386
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn
    Contact
  • Sebastian Fischer
    Mis­sion Man­ag­er En­MAP
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ger­man Space Agen­cy at DLR
    Earth Ob­ser­va­tion
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn
    Contact
  • Tobias Storch
    Earth Ob­ser­va­tion Cen­ter (EOC)
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ger­man Re­mote Sens­ing Da­ta Cen­ter (DFD)
    Münchner Straße 20
    82234 Weßling
    Contact
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