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Satellite Missions Catalogue

CHIME (Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment)

Nov 16, 2020

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The CHIME is one of six new missions to expand the current suite of Sentinel missions. It will consist of two satellites, CHIME-A and CHIME-B, which will provide systematic hyperspectral images to map changes in land cover and aid sustainable agricultural practices.

Quick facts

Overview

Mission typeEO
AgencyESA, COM
Mission statusApproved
Measurement domainAtmosphere, Ocean, Land
Measurement categoryMulti-purpose imagery (ocean), Radiation budget, Multi-purpose imagery (land)
Measurement detailedOcean imagery and water leaving spectral radiance, Land surface imagery, Upwelling (Outgoing) spectral radiance at TOA
InstrumentsHSI
Instrument typeHyperspectral imagers
CEOS EO HandbookSee CHIME (Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment) summary

chime satellite
CHIME Satellite (Image Credit: Thales Alenia Space)


 

Summary

Mission Capabilities

Each CHIME satellite will carry a HyperSpectral Imager (HSI) on board which will be a pushbroom-type grating Imaging Spectrometer with high Signal-to-noise ratio and data uniformity to support the monitoring, implementation and improvement of a range of policies in the domain of raw material, food security, agriculture and soil properties. HSI will have secondary applications that relate to biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability, forestry management, environmental degradation, lake/coastal ecosystems, water quality, and snow characteristics. 

 

Performance Specifications

HSI is an advanced hyperspectral imager that will be able to image in over 200 bands over a wavelength range from 400 nm - 2500 nm in the Visible (VIS), Near Infrared (NIR), and Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) spectrum at a spectral bandwidth less than 10 nm. It will be able to measure at a ground resolution of 30 m for  a swath width of 130 km with high radiometric accuracy for Level-1B data.

CHIME satellites will be in a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 632 km with an orbital inclination of 97.9°. The orbital period of these satellites will be 97.5 minutes with a 25-day repeat cycle.
 

Space and Hardware Components

CHIME satellites will be constructed by an industrial consortium consisting of 44 companies from 17 countries. The prime contractor is Thales Alenia Space France (TAS-F) which is a joint venture between Thales and Leonardo. The instrument will be primarily built by Otto Hydraulic Bremen (OHB) systems Germany with Leonardo Italy developing the focal planes and end-to-end calibration, and Advanced Mechanical and Optical Systems (AMOS) of Belgium developing the three spectrometers, gratings and slits.


 

CHIME (Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment)

Status     References

Overview

Evolution in the Copernicus Space Component (CSC) is foreseen in the mid-2020s to meet priority user needs not addressed by the existing infrastructure, and/or to reinforce services by monitoring capability in the thematic domains of CO2, polar, and agriculture/forestry. This evolution will be synergetic with the enhanced continuity of services for the next generation of CSC. 1)

Growing expectations about the use of Earth observation data to support policy-making and monitoring puts increasing pressure on technology to deliver proven and reliable information. Hyperspectral imaging (also known as imaging spectroscopy) today enables the observation and monitoring of surface measurements (geobiophysical and geobiochemical variables) due to the diagnostic capability of spectroscopy provided through contiguous, gapless spectral sampling from the visible to the shortwave infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Hyperspectral imaging is a powerful remote sensing technology based on high spectral resolution measurements of light interacting with matter, thus allowing the characterisation and quantification of Earth's surface materials.

Quantitative variables derived from the observed spectra, e.g. directly through distinct absorption features are diagnostic for a range of new and improved Copernicus services with a focus on the precise management of natural resources. These services support the monitoring, implementation and improvement of a range of related policies and decisions.

Thanks to well-established spectroscopic techniques, optical hyperspectral remote sensing has the potential to deliver significant enhancement in quantitative value-added products. This will support the generation of a wide variety of new products and services in the domain of agriculture, food security, raw materials, soils, biodiversity, environmental degradation and hazards, inland and coastal waters, and forestry. These are relevant to various EU policies, that are currently not being met or can be really improved, but also to the private downstream sector.

The main mission objective of CHIME is:

”To provide routine hyperspectral observations through the Copernicus Program in support of EU- and related policies for the management of natural resources, assets and benefits. This unique visible-to-shortwave infrared spectroscopy (400-2500 nm, Δλ≤10 nm) based observational capability will in particular support new and enhanced services for food security, agriculture and raw materials. This includes sustainable agricultural and biodiversity management, soil properties characterisation, sustainable mining practices and environment preservation.”

Natural Resources Management

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security

Raw Materials

Food nutrition and nutrition quality

Sustainable use of
nutrients and water

Soil degradation and soil
properties

Responsible raw materials
exploration and mining

Mine Environment
Management

Table 1: Application pillars of the hyperspectral imaging mission for natural resources management and their unique information provision using hyperspectral sensors

 

The mission will provide hyperspectral observations with high radiometric accuracy at a spatial resolution of 20-30 m and with a revisit time of 10-12.5 days, using a sun-synchronous orbit with an overpass time of between 10:30-11:30 LTDN (Local Time on Descending Node).

The core products supplied by the mission will be Level-2A atmospheric and geometrically correct surface reflectance, including Bottom-of-Atmosphere (BOA) reflectance, or tho-rectified geometry using a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and pixel classification (a side product from the atmospheric correction process) allowing users to distinguish opaque clouds, thin clouds, cloud shadows, vegetation, etc. In addition, a set of downstream products will be proposed to users as part of the mission catalogue to support the operational use of the data. 2)

Products and services from CHIME are expected to support research in the domains of agriculture, food security, raw materials, soils, biodiversity, environmental degradation and hazards, inland and coastal waters, and forestry.

The mission will make unique and major contributions towards fulfilling user requirements in the domains of agricultural services and sustainable agricultural management, and raw materials. It will support a number of policies:

a) the UN SDGs [(Sustainable Development Goals], SDGs 2, 12 and 15],

b) the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP),

c) the EU Raw Materials Initiative,

d) the UN Convention for Combating Desertification and Land Degradation,

e) the Soil Thematic Strategy and the Soil Framework Directive,

f) the EU Water Framework Directive,

h) the UN Convention on Biodiversity (Aichi Targets).



 

Development Status

• September 27, 2021: With COVID restrictions a little more relaxed, scientists from Europe and the USA were finally able to team up for a long-awaited field experiment to ensure that a new Copernicus satellite called CHIME will deliver the best possible data products as soon as it is operational in orbit. CHIME is being developed to support EU policies on the management of natural resources, ultimately helping to address the global issue of food security. 3) To best prepare CHIME for its tasks ahead, and as part of a cooperation between ESA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), scientists joined forces recently for the Hypersense experiment campaign, which was supposed to take place in 2020 but COVID restrictions meant it had to be delayed.

- The campaign, which is being managed by the University of Zürich, first involved bringing an aircraft and JPL’s measuring instrument from the USA to the Dübendorf airbase near Zurich in Switzerland. The Next Generation Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, AVIRIS, instrument resembles the capabilities that CHIME will have once in orbit. Measurements taken with AVIRIS over more than 20 test sites that represent different types of ecosystems are helping scientists and engineers prepare for and ensure that CHIME will be able to take up duty delivering high-quality diagnostic and quantitative data as soon it is in orbit and operational.  Most of these flights coincided with measurements taken on the ground to further help evaluate the data collected by the airborne instrument.

- As part of this airborne and field campaign, cooperation was also set up with the Italian Space Agency, ASI, to observe the test sites from space with their satellite imaging spectrometer called PRISMA. In addition, the German Aerospace Center, DLR, provided hyperspectral images from its DESIS sensor, an imaging spectrometer that looks down on Earth from the International Space Station. The resulting datasets include contemporaneous ground, airborne and spaceborne observations for an improved diagnostic and quantitative analysis of these imaging spectrometer ‘fingerprint’ data, which result from observing the target by means of contiguous spectral bands between the blue and the shortwave infrared (400–2500 nm). The cooperation with NASA, under which this campaign is being carried out, also includes harmonised preparation between CHIME and NASA’s Surface Biology Geology mission, which has similar spectrometer observation characteristics as CHIME. 

Figure 1: The campaign involved bringing an aircraft and JPL’s measuring instrument from the USA to the Dübendorf airbase near Zurich in Switzerland. The Next Generation Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, AVIRIS, instrument resembles the capabilities that CHIME will have once in orbit. Captured by AVIRIS, the image shows agricultural fields in Irlbach, Germany (image credit: NASA/JPL)
Figure 1: The campaign involved bringing an aircraft and JPL’s measuring instrument from the USA to the Dübendorf airbase near Zurich in Switzerland. The Next Generation Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, AVIRIS, instrument resembles the capabilities that CHIME will have once in orbit. Captured by AVIRIS, the image shows agricultural fields in Irlbach, Germany (image credit: NASA/JPL)

• November 13, 2020: The ESA officially signed contracts with Thales Alenia Space in France and Italy, and Airbus in Spain to build three of the new high-priority Copernicus satellite missions: CHIME, CIMR and LSTM, respectively. Each mission is set to help address different major environmental challenges such as sustainable agriculture management, food security, and the monitoring of polar ice supporting the EU Integrated Policy for the Arctic, and all will be used to understand climate change. 4) CHIME (Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment) covers the agricultural management aspect and will complement Copernicus Sentinel-2 for applications such as land-cover mapping.

Figure 3: CHIME will carry a unique visible to shortwave infrared spectrometer to provide routine hyperspectral observations to support new and enhanced services for sustainable agricultural and biodiversity management, as well as soil property characterization. The mission will complement Copernicus Sentinel-2 for applications such as land-cover mapping (image credit: Thales Alenia Space)
Figure 2: CHIME mission early conceptual design (image credit: Thales Alenia Space)

• July 14, 2020: Teledyne e2v, a Teledyne Technologies company and part of the Teledyne Imaging Group has been selected through the grouped proposal of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) industrial policy committee to place six Copernicus Sentinel satellite missions to provide the image sensor technology. 5) The two missions, CHIME and CO2M, funded by ESA, incorporate image sensors at the heart of the instruments and will utilise Teledyne Imaging’s technology. The Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission, CHIME, a unique visible-to-shortwave infrared spectrometer will provide routine hyperspectral observations to support new and enhanced services for sustainable agricultural and biodiversity management, and soil property characterisation. The mission will complement Copernicus Sentinel-2, which also features a Teledyne Imaging visible sensor, for applications such as land-cover mapping. Thales Alenia Space France will lead the CHIME industrial consortium.

• July 3, 2020: Following the financial commitment from ESA Member States at last November’s Council at Ministerial Level Space19+, ESA’s industrial policy committee has approved contracts totalling €2.55 billion to forward the development of six new Copernicus satellite missions, each mission comprising two satellites, a development and a recurrent unit. 6) The overall package is co-funded by the EU and ESA Member States and relies on future funding from the EU Multiannual financial framework. The approval provides the green light to start industrial contracts for the six missions. However, two important milestones need to be met before the missions can be fully developed: an agreement between ESA and the EU for the EU co-funded part of the program, and a positive decision by the EC as well as ESA/EU Member States to go from Phase B2 to Phase C/D. This decision point was planned for the second half of 2021.

- Copernicus is the biggest provider of Earth observation data in the world – and while the EU is at the helm of this environmental monitoring program, ESA develops, builds and launches the dedicated satellites. It also operates some of the missions and ensures the availability of data from third-party missions. Copernicus is often quoted as a prime example of how the European Commission and ESA can successfully work together in space, making perfect use of each other’s strengths. Data from the Sentinel suite feed into the Copernicus Services, which help address challenges such as food security, air pollution, rising sea levels, diminishing polar ice, natural disasters and, importantly, climate change.

- Looking to the future, six high-priority candidate missions will expand the current capabilities of the Sentinels and address EU policy priorities and gaps in Copernicus user needs. The new industrial contracts now kick off the key design phases (Phase B) for these six missions. The Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission, CHIME, is one of these missions. CHIME will carry a hyperspectral imager to return detailed information for sustainable agricultural and biodiversity management. Thales Alenia Space France will lead the development with a contract value of €455 million.

• July 2, 2020: TAS (Thales Alenia Space) a Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), has recently been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) in coordination and with the agreement of the European Commission, for major Copernicus missions. Copernicus is the core satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and ESA. It provides Earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks. Thales Alenia Space France will serve as the prime contractor for CHIME (Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment) with OHB system and Leonardo as main subcontractors


References


1) ”Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment - Mission Requirements Document,” ESA/ESTEC, 23 July 2019, URL: http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/EarthObservation/Copernicus_CHIME_MRD_v2.1_Issued20190723.pdf

2) ”Plans for a New Wave of European Sentinel Satellites,” ESA, 2020, URL: https://futureearth.org
/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/issuebrief_04_03.pdf

3) ”Going hyperspectral for CHIME,” ESA Applications, 27 September 2021, URL: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/
Copernicus/Going_hyperspectral_for_CHIME

4) ”Contracts signed for three high-priority environmental missions,” ESA Applications, 13 November 20220, URL: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus
/Contracts_signed_for_three_high-priority_environmental_missions

5) ”Teledyne Imaging to supply image sensors for new Copernicus Earth observation missions,” Teledyne e2v, 14 July 2020, URL: https://web.archive.org/web/20220127140426/https://www.teledyne-e2v.com/news/teledyne-imaging-to-supply-image-sensors-for-new-copernicus-earth-observation-missions/

6) ”Contracts awarded for development of six new Copernicus missions,” ESA Applications, 03 July 2020, URL: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/
Contracts_awarded_for_development_of_six_new_Copernicus_missions

 


 

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