What is EnMAP capable of?

How the German hyperspectral satellite will provide new insights about the global environment

The Earth observation satellite EnMAP, which OHB System AG has built on contract for the German Space Agency at DLR, will be traveling into its orbit in April 2022, from where it will be tracking changes in nature and the climate. But what is EnMAP capable of? The OHB team has summarized the most important questions and answers about the German hyperspectral satellite.

What is EnMAP capable of?

The spectrally high-resolution images created by EnMAP will provide answers to questions such as: How polluted is the water? What minerals or pollutants are in the soil? What is growing there and what is the situation with regard to the availability of plant nutrients? What impact is climate change having on a wide variety of different ecosystems? The hyperspectral instrument that the satellite will carry on board will enable the satellite to record the solar radiation reflected from the Earth’s surface in a range from visible light to the short-wave infrared range in continuous spectra. In this way, it will be possible to generate high-resolution spectral images that allow quantitative findings to be made about the mineralogical composition of rocks, the damage to plants by air pollutants, the water quality of lakes and coastal waters or the degree of soil pollution. The geosciences, agricultural sciences and environmental sciences will benefit from this.

What else is EnMAP capable of?

The hyperspectral instrument that the satellite will carry on board consists of two imaging spectrometers with a total of 242 recording bands in a wavelength range from 420 to 2,450 nanometers. The spectral resolution is 6.5 nanometers in the visible and near-infrared range and 10 nanometers in the short-wave infrared range.

How can EnMAP scan the Earth?

The satellite can be rotated 30 degrees, resulting in a possible maximum of four days’ revisiting time for any point on the Earth’s surface. EnMAP can also be used to document comparatively rapid spatial-temporal changes, such as erosion processes or vegetation periods.

Where was the hyperspectral instrument built?

The satellite has been engineered at the OHB “Optics and Science” space center in Oberpfaffenhofen. Although EnMAP is primarily a scientific mission, there is clear potential for developing operational applications, such as for agriculture or environmental protection. The satellite is being developed and built by OHB System AG on behalf of the German Space Agency at DLR with funding provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWi).

When will EnMAP be launched and how long will it be operating?

The launch of the satellite is scheduled for April 2022, and the scientific mission is designed to last five years. The "environmental observer" will be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX to its sun-synchronous Earth orbit at an altitude of around 650 kilometers.