Polar orbiting or geostationnary earth observation missions are vital for operational applications (meteorology, environment monitoring, ocean circulation forecast,...) and long-term survey of the climate and the ocean. They provide global observations on a regular and consistent basis for numerous geophysical or biogeochemical parameters over the ocean, including surface winds, waves, heat content, sea level, sea surface temperature, sea ice, air/sea fluxes,...The retrieval of this information is performed through a wide range of onboard instruments including active and passive sensors operating in various wave length. This section provides an overview of the various missions and their benefits to ocean knowledge.
Originally intended as a processing center for the ERS-1 & ERS-2 satellites, the CERSAT has been archiving and distributing - since 1996 - data from other satellite missions. By integrating new sensors (scatterometers, radiometers, altimeters,...) in its database, the CERSAT is preparing the after-ERS era and can act as a valuable node in the forthcoming earth observation networks. Merging various sensors, it is also able to generate multi-sensor value-added products.