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01.13.2016

ESA’s FLEX mision: information from space on actual productivity of vegetation

ESA’s Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX) mission, to be launched in 2022, will map vegetation fluorescence to quantify photosynthetic activity. This activity is an indicator for the actual productivity of vegetation which can be used to support agricultural management and the development of a sustainable bioeconomy.

  • FLEX: an Earth Explorer to observe vegetation fluorescence (picture by ESA) Earth Explorer to observe vegetation fluorescence (picture by ESA)

ESA has selected FLEX as the eighth Earth Explorer mission. The FLEX mission will map vegetation fluorescence to quantify photosynthetic activity. FLEX will provide unique satellite images for research into the functioning of vegetation and phytoplankton. This mission will, therefore, allow researchers to gain better insight into the worldwide effects of land-use, weather, and stress factors on plants on land and algae in the oceans.

FLEX will also give us new information on the actual productivity of vegetation. This information should support agricultural management and the development of a sustainable bioeconomy. Until now, an accurate mapping of photosynthetic activity from space was not possible, but FLEX’s novel fluorescence imaging spectrometer will measure this faint glow.

The FLEX satellite will orbit in tandem with one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites, taking advantage of its optical and thermal sensors to provide an integrated package of measurements. FLEX is expected to be launched into orbit in 2022.

More information on FLEX, please check the ESA news site or the FLEX technical report