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FLEX (Earth Explorer 8)

FLEX [ESA]

ESA’s Earth Observation Programme Board has selected FLEX (Fluorescence Explorer) in November 2015 to become the eighth Earth Explorer mission. FLEX will provide global maps of vegetation fluorescence, which can be converted into an indicator of photosynthetic activity.

The Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX) mission will map vegetation fluorescence to quantify photosynthetic activity. The conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy-rich carbohydrates through photosynthesis is one of the most fundamental processes on Earth. Information from FLEX will improve our understanding of the way carbon moves between plants and the atmosphere and how photosynthesis affects the carbon and water cycles. In addition, information from FLEX will lead to better insight into plant health and stress. This is of particular relevance since the growing global population is placing increasing demands on the production of food and animal feed. So far, it has not been possible to measure photosynthetic activity from space, but FLEX’s novel fluorescence imaging spectrometer will observe this faint glow, which serves as an indicator of photosynthesis.

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.

The planned launch date for the FLEX mission is in 2022.

Nation: Europe
Type / Application: Earth Science
Operator: ESA
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Propulsion: ?
Power: Deployable solar array, batteries
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Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
FLEX (Earth Explorer 8) - 2022 Ko ELV Vega (baselined)