ceos   eesa
spacer Volker Liebig

Kiran Kumar
spacer Foreword

It gives us great pleasure, on behalf of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), to present the 2012 edition of the CEOS Earth Observation Handbook, prepared under the auspices of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The report presents the main capabilities of satellite Earth observations, their applications and a systematic overview of present and planned CEOS agency Earth observation satellite missions and their instruments. This edition has been prepared specially in support of the Rio+20 Summit, to assist the debates around how to address sustainable development challenges and, in particular, the information we need to define and implement well-informed environmental policies and the conventions that support them. Satellite observations are an absolutely essential tool in the development of this information, providing evidence and supporting the science that underpins strategies for global environmental decision-making – and for monitoring our progress on all geographical scales as we explore new development paths aimed at sustainable management of the planet.

spacer Recognising that no single country can satisfy all of the observational requirements necessary for monitoring the Earth System, governments are taking steps to harmonise and integrate their observing networks and satellite observing systems to be able to address common problems of global concern. The major aim of CEOS is to achieve international coordination in the planning of these Earth-observing satellite programmes and to maximise utilisation of their data in order to effectively address the most critical requirements.

We hope that the CEOS Earth Observation Handbook will continue to serve as a valuable reference source for a variety of readers from all sectors of society, including those engaged in the Rio+20 process and in the definition and execution of the main environmental conventions, as well as decision-makers in political and socio-economic sectors. We further hope that it can help to improve understanding of the role of satellite Earth observations in support of a well-managed planet, and contribute to optimisation of the overall Earth observation strategy by the governments of the world and their implementing agencies.

Volker Liebig
Director of Earth Observation Programmes
European Space Agency

Kiran Kumar
Indian Space Research Organisation
CEOS Chair for 2012