Major projects

FLEX/S3 Tandem Mission Performance Analysis and Requirements Consolidation Study (PARCS)


The FLEX – Sentinel-3 tandem concept.
The FLEX – Sentinel-3 tandem concept.
Project location
Starting date 01 January 2012
Completion date 01 January 2014
Project leader Prof. dr. ing. W. (Wouter) Verhoef
Project officer Bert Boer
Project type Contract research
Budget Euro 40,000 (ITC part)

Although vegetation monitoring has been one of the key objectives of many different satellite missions in the past, FLEX will be the first mission explicitly designed to monitor the photosynthetic activity of the terrestrial vegetation layer by using a completely novel technique measuring the chlorophyll fluorescence signal that originates from the core of the photosynthetic machinery. This will provide a completely new possibility to assess the dynamics of actual photosynthesis through sun-induced fluorescence, which offers a great advancement over current capabilities that can only detect potential photosynthesis as derived in passive reflectance measurements by conventional land surface monitoring satellites. While current observational techniques provide information about the amount of light absorbed by vegetation, FLEX will provide direct insight on how much of such absorbed energy is actually used for photosynthesis, this being a completely new type of information never available before from space observations.

Spectral bands specification and combined data exploitation concept.

The goal of this project is to:

  1. To assess and consolidate the mission observational requirements to retrieve vegetation fluorescence with the required accuracy to use fluorescence information into dynamical vegetation photosynthesis models and the FLEX performance required to address the open issues in vegetation fluorescence.
  2. To establish the role of the different instruments included in Sentinel-3 and the FLEX payload in conjunction with external data sources, to derive the final products: fluorescence and actual photosynthetic activity.
  3. To test the performances and evaluate feasibility of the evolving FLEX concept based on new iterations of the technical requirements and/or potential optimisation in the payload, as a consequence of output from the industrial system concept study, with the objective to provide the boundaries for optimization of the instrument concept.

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