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The European Space Agency's EarthCARE satellite finally to launch – revolutionary for climate research

Deputy Director-General of the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute at the National Land Survey will be watching the launch of the satellite on Tuesday in California as the Chairperson of the Programme Board for Earth Observation of the European Space Agency ESA. Jarkko Koskinen has actively participated in the project since 2008 when ESA signed an agreement to build the satellite.

Illustration of EarthCARE satellite above desert
Illustration of the EarthCARE satellite above a desert landscape.
ESA/ATG Medialab

The main purpose of the EarthCARE research satellite is to improve our understanding of the connections between clouds, aerosols and radiation, all of which are crucial in the Earth's climate system. Another purpose of the satellite is to improve our current climate models and the accuracy of weather forecasts. The satellite is a joint project of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

’The satellite launch preparations have taken a long time and the satellite will give us completely new data on the propagation and effects of climate change. For a long time, we have wished for a better understanding of how aerosols affect climate’, says Jarkko Koskinen.

Our current understanding of how aerosols affect climate is poor. The satellite can give us more crucial data on why the areas near the poles are warming up several times faster than the rest of the world. If the launch is successful, the data from the satellite will be available after a few months of testing and calibration.

The satellite contains a lot of advanced technology, such as a profiling aerosol LiDAR (light detection and ranging), cloud radar, multi spectrum camera and broadband radiometer. These sensors are using the same technology that is researched in Finland, but they have been optimised for atmospheric research. The satellite also contains space electronics from Finland.

Contributions to satellite financing from Finland

As a member state of the European Space Agency, Finland has contributed to financing the research satellite. The satellite is a part of the scientific programme for remote sensing Future EO, partly financed by Finland. The satellite project is a significant financial and scientific investment with a budget of approx. 860 million euros. In return, the satellite is expected to signify a possible revolution in climate research.

Deputy Director-General Jarkko Koskinen of the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute FGI has been closely involved in the EarthCARE project since it started. He has served as our National Delegate to ESA since 2001 and as the Chairperson of the agency's Programme Board for Earth Observation since 2023. As the spokesperson he represents the ESA member countries and he will be present for the satellite launch at the Vandenberg military base in California, US. Previously during his career, Jarkko Koskinen has, for example, served as a researcher at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA.

The ESA Programme Board for Earth Observation is responsible for the development of methods and technology for monitoring extreme weather phenomena and the effects of climate change using satellite-based remote sensing methods.

’It is an honour to be invited to watch when something as significant as this occurs. Europe has made an enormous investment in research that will benefit the whole world’, Jarkko Koskinen says contentedly.

No satellite launch is completely risk free. The weather conditions must be suitable to attempt a launch. Technical errors may also lead to failure. The launch is expected to occur on Tuesday 28 May at 15:20 local time (1:20 on Wednesday night Finnish time). You can watch the launch live from ESA by clicking the link below. The livestream will start at 00:30 Finnish time.

More information

FGI Deputy Director-General Jarkko Koskinen (travelling until 31 May, queries by e-mail during the trip),, +358 29 531 4799

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