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Univ. of Miami's CSTARS Captures History

Final image from critical environmental observation satellite ERS-2 captured and processed

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science


IMAGE: Following 16 years of Earth observations, the European Space Agency's ERS-2 satellite was decommissioned and removed from its continuous orbit around the Earth on July 4, 2011. The final image,... view more


MIAMI - July 20, 2011 - Following 16 years of Earth observations, the European Space Agency's (ESA) ERS-2 satellite was decommissioned and removed from its continuous orbit around the Earth on July 4, 2011. The final image, captured by the University of Miami's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS), occurred over the Antilles Islands in the Caribbean.

"We've been tracking ERS-2 for nearly 10 years," said Hans Graber, executive director of CSTARS. "The satellite provided essential scientific data to monitor hurricanes and other environmental and weather-related phenomena."

The data collected from the satellite represents a major asset for the Earth observation community, according to the ESA in Frascati, Italy. The first image collect of the satellite by CSTARS occurred on September 24, 2002.

CSTARS collected more than 24,000 100-km2 scenes of the environmental condition on Earth. These images represent 240 million square-kilometers, which would cover the United States more than 24 times.

"Thanks to the collaboration with CSTARS during the last decade, ERS-2 has gained significant recognition as an operational satellite mission being able to adopt quickly to arising challenges," said Wolfgang Lengert, ERS missions manager at ESA. "The latest example was the recent earthquake in Japan where repetitive observations were made over the Sendai area every 3 days."

CSTARS provided critical support to the ESA following the March 11 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan. Using private communication lines the data were transmitted to CSTARS in near real-time and rapidly processed to generate basic image data for researchers to analyze the geophysical conditions, such as vertical ground displacement, near the earthquake epicenter in Sendai, Japan.

The ERS-2 launched in 1995, to observe land, ocean, atmosphere and polar regions using a variety of remote-sensing instruments affixed to the satellite.

CSTARS also supported the ESA over the last five years as a low-bit data downlink station, in which data were downlinked and immediately processed for distribution to national weather centers around the world.

"In addition to the operational support for ERS-2, CSTARS also contributed to many state of the art science and applications achievements of the ERS missions," said Lengert. "Future satellite missions will benefit from this kind of research collaboration."


Launched in 2003, CSTARS is a major program of the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Employing low earth-orbiting satellite systems, CSTARS scientists conduct research using remotely sensed data. They provide directly downlinked, high-resolution data for environmental monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico, Southeastern United States, northern South America, Central America and the Caribbean Basin. CSTARS also furnishes a reliable communications channel for researchers stationed at the Antarctic Southpole Research Station, connecting them via VoIP (Voice over the Internet Protocol), and providing electronic medical file transfers, when required. For more information, please visit

About the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School

The University of Miami's mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940's, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

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