Press Release

OHB signs contract for the realisation of payloads for the European Earth observation Mission CHIME

Hyperspectral satellites to complement Copernicus programme and enable sustainable use of natural resources

Bremen/Oberpfaffenhofen, November 19, 2020. OHB System AG, a subsidiary of the technology and space technology group OHB SE, will be developing the payload for the two satellites of the Earth observation mission CHIME under a subcontract from Thales Alenia Space. The corresponding contract was signed today. CHIME (Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission) is part of the European Earth observation program Copernicus and is intended to contribute to the responsible and sustainable use of natural resources by means of hyperspectral analyses of the Earth's surface. The total value of the contract for OHB is just under EUR 259 million.

Copernicus: The second major European space programme

Copernicus is the second major European space program after Galileo and provides an independent infrastructure for Earth observation. The data collected by measuring facilities on land, at sea, in the air and in space are primarily used to monitor the environment and climate, but they also help to cope with natural disasters and provide answers to security-related questions. The program is financed by the European Union EU and the European Space Agency ESA.

A spectral fingerprint of Earth's surface

CHIME is a mission that is intended to supplement the data collected so far by Copernicus Sentinel-2 with detailed analyses of the Earth's surface. For this purpose, the instruments of the CHIME satellites consist of imaging spectrometers operating in the range from visible light to short-wave infrared (400 to 2,500 nm). With such instruments, a continuous spectrum and thus a kind of "spectral fingerprint" of objects can be recorded. In this way, for example, different types of vegetation and different soil properties can be differentiated based on their characteristic absorption and reflection properties. It is also possible to monitor the state of health of vegetation. The data will be used to promote the responsible use of natural resources and sustainable agriculture. A main focus will be on ensuring food security for the population and the preservation of biodiversity.

Not the first hyperspectral payload

The instruments for CHIME are being developed and built by OHB System AG in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich in Bavaria. As main contractor for the CHIME payload, OHB System AG will be coordinating a team of further European companies. One of the industrial partners in this connection is Italian space and defence company Leonardo S.p.A., which will be producing several important parts of the CHIME instruments at its site in Florence. Both OHB's Oberpfaffenhofen site and Leonardo's Florence site already have experience in the development of highly complex hyperspectral payloads: the instrument for the German hyperspectral satellite EnMAP was produced in Oberpfaffenhofen, while the hyperspectral payload for the Italian PRISMA satellite was built by Leonardo in Florence. "It is a great success for OHB to be able to develop and build a further major European instrument at the Oberpfaffenhofen site," stresses Christoph Bartscher, OHB project manager for the development of the CHIME instruments. "It is an important sign from ESA for the confidence in OHB and our competence. We are also pleased to be able to make a key contribution to European Earth observation".

The launch of the first CHIME satellite is planned for 2028.

Artistic representation of a CHIME satellite. © TAS
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