The junior Earth Observation Space Agency !

Category : CATDS, Data, L4, Tools, Training


The best experiences are the ones we do with passion … and with friends.

Last week, my previous officemate and dear friend Jerome was organising a Science fair during the Week for Science in France. More precisely, a non-profit organisation “Scientomomes” that he chairs was organising the fair with a multitude of stands covering information technology and robotics (this is Jerome’s universe), archaeology, fluid mechanics…

Eager to join the team, I suggested a workshop on EO satellites. The idea was to simplify the process behind an earth observation mission for the kids and make them build rudimentary models.

So I imagined a workshop divided into three steps:

What to observe ?

First the kids select a subject of interest: hydrology, oceanography…and most important an issue that passionate them: melting of the ice sheets, flood monitoring, deforestation…And from this they select a technology (satellite) that can help answer their question much like a phase 0 (CNES) for an EO mission. For this they use a monitor connected to a pc with the following links/apps from CNES/ESA/Google:


Make your satellite model

Then they build the satellite from basic tools that covers the main components: container, power source, scientific instruments, communication device, and orientation finders. Nothing sophisticated. They use printed models of satellites, gold papers for isolation, cardboards, screws for thruters… (Here they are at phase C). Here is one rudimentary example from NASA :



Launch it…

Last step they launch the satellite, make the commissioning and check the actual data from the mission. Finally they make sure the satellite is destroyed properly (well in this case virtually). For the launch we used a youtube videos over a connected monitor:

Needless to say the event was a great success and we had an army of future engineers building the most extensive Earth Observation System of Systems !

And to my delight Clement (the future engineer you see in the first picture) selected to make a satellite to monitor soil moisture and he made a model of ESA SMOS satellite.  So the future seems to be bright…


SMOS Training Course 2015 – student’s point of view

Category : CATDS, Data, Training


Awaluddin Halirin Kaimuddin : “I am an Indonesian PhD student from the University of Brest, France, working on marine fish species distribution modeling using GIS technique. In the need of sea salinity data as one of the limiting factor of fish distribution, I applied for the SMOS training course held by ESA. Thanks God that I was accepted as one of the lucky participant for one week intensive course. I really enjoyed the teaching method with full dedication and support from the teachers/organizers. In addition, the participants came from different background and from almost all around the world: Europe, Asia, North America, even from New Zealand allowing sharing experience and discussion not only about the research but also about different social working condition and even cultural subject. It was such a wonderful and rich experience that I definitely recommend and promote the course to all of my friends”

Alexander Schwertheim: I came to the ESA training course on behalf of  Bodeker Scientific in New Zealand. We are currently assessing the feasibility of assimilating soil moisture data over New Zealand    in order to help the agricultural sector to conserve water. Given that our project is in its early stages, we did not yet know which of the SMOS products we would use. The SMOS training course provided me with enough information on all the products, to understand the differences and benefits of each. Having completed the course I am confident I have the skills to use whichever SMOS product I require.

Victoria Walker: I am a graduate student at Iowa State University and I came to the training course to learn the details of the L2 soil moisture retrieval algorithm. I fully enjoyed the time I spent here making new connections and expanding my knowledge of SMOS.

Lange Martin: Dear Trainings course organizers and lecturers, thanks a lot for the invitation to the SMOS training course. I enjoyed it very much to attend this intense course with an internationality which I never experienced in such a small kind group of around 20+x people from New Zealand over Asia, Africa, North America to  Scandinavia (sorry for those I didn’t mention).  I am Martin Lange working at the German weather service in the field of  land data assimilation.  As I took the trainings course as a starting point for my work in assimilation of SMOS data in soil moisture analysis it was very helpful to get an overall overview about the mission and an introduction to the existing products with practical applications and presentations what has been achieved already. Although I didn’t know very much about the retrieval algorithms so far, I feel that I am now prepared to do the next steps. Thanks to Yann Kerr, Susanne Mecklenburg who did all the things behind the scenes which are necessary to make such an event being successful, and the whole team for the individual assistance. Keep it up!

Xu YUAN: I am a Chinese PhD student from University of Twente, Netherland. My subject during PhD period is about the relationship between sea surface salinity and the Indian summer monsoon. From the SMOS training course, I learned a lot about the president situations of sea surface salinity which is very helpful with my study. The teachers are very patient to teach us the knowledge and to solve our problems. I really enjoy the time during this SMOS training course.

Zenaida Chitu: I am researcher at the National Institute of Hydrology and Water Management, Romania working on hillslope hydrology for analyzing the hydro-meteorological conditions which trigger landslides in Sub-carpathians area, Romania. As soil moisture represent a key parameter for definition of the initial state of the catchments, I applied for SMOS training course in order to extend my approach over large areas in Romania. The SMOS training course was the best way to learn about how to access, to check the data quality and how to use the retrieval processors for obtaining soil moisture satellite products. The skills that I gained through this training course will help me to use SMOS products in my actual research. I really enjoined the course and I highly recommend it.

Karthikeyan Lanka: I am a PhD student from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. I feel that I have attended the training program at right time in my academics. The training program has been seamlessly organized and the best part is that I could directly interact with trainers who were directly involved in development of products. They were courteous enough to come and visit my poster and involve in discussion on what I have been doing in PhD. I have received some valuable comments which are critical for my research. I am happy that I could establish contact with some great scientists as well as students. Thanks for organizing such a program and I request you to keep continuing it in future.

Friedrich Richter: “After finishing my studies in meteorology, I started my training at ESA  in the field of remote sensing of the cryosphere. My project’s goal is to investigate sea ice thicknesses derived by passive microwave from SMOS and make further implications on the atmospheric response. The SMOS workshop provided me perfect knowledge to start my investigations on this topic, especially in terms of a comprehensive understanding of variety of SMOS products from the low L1 measurements to high complex L4 data products.”

Hakki Baltaci: I am a PhD student from Istanbul Technical University together with full time working in Meteorology Service,of Istanbul,Turkey. Although topics of the training were hard for me to understand in a week:), the programme was well prepared by including algorithms, and scientific applications. I have learned so many things about the soil moisture data and its applications that I will implement in my later studies. Thanks for scientific and organizing committee for their hospitality and supports.

Houda SAIRI , I am a PhD student from Hassan II University – Casablanca ( Morocco )  , in my studies I’m trying to integrate the parameter of soil moisture in hydrological modeling and flood forecasting so it’s very interesting for me to know how to manipulate SMOS data in the right way by the right method/tool . For me, this training course gave me a push to learn and also to create a SM scientific network that of course will help me in the future. Thanks for all of scientific and organization committee for their efforts.

This post was prepared by Awaluddin Kaimuddin

End of of the SMOS fortnight at ESAC !!

Category : CATDS, Tools, Training

A very busy two weeks at ESAC have just finished.

First a training course took place at ESAC during one week (May 18-22). It was the third SMOS training course but this time ESA took care (very efficiently!) of the logistics and provided us with very nice facilities (thank you Antonio!!)


(all photos courtesy of Ali Mahmoodi)

This training course was aimed at newcomers wanting to learn how to use SMOS. With lectures intersped with practicals the students (18) were intitated into the different SMOS levels. The course also included a visit of the ESAC facilities together with a fine « BBQ ».


Some of the students stayed on to take advantage of the SMOS Conference which was also a success . The presentations covered all the SMOS aspects together with presentations and posters of equivalent missions (Aquarius and SMAP) recent results and synergisms. Evening were busy with spontaneous picnics and a gorgeous banquet

The presentations will be made available by ESA on its SMOS conference site.

SMOS 3rd training course is in full swing

Category : Training

The SMOS training course (3rd edition) is currently taking place at the ESA centre of Villafranca (ESAC) in Spain.
18 students from 14 countries together with 4 spectators are currently being « initiated » to the SMOS data in the very nice facilities of ESAC


Ali presenting image reconstruction (picture by Beatriz)

The course is the third one and takes advantage of the release of the new version (V620) of the SMOS Data while covering both land and ocean science applications (see twitter account)

Next week, the Second post launch SMOS workshop will take place, also at ESAC. Stay tuned!

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