Water in space. 4 Technology and climate monitoring

Current ADS scientific missions

Now, we would like to focus the content of the article on the applications of human technology to society and climate monitoring.

The most basic answer to anyone doubting the contribution of satellites to their lives is in their pockets (GPS, Internet, smartphone), and as such, it may be reminded that Europe is building its very own GPS constellation called GALILEO, for which an augmentation service (EGNOS) is available, and its phase v3 development on-going, probably by ADS. GALILEO is a public tool, with Public Regulated Services (PRS) as well as Search And Rescue (SAR) services [14], provided to the European citizens by the European Global navigation Satellite systems Agency (GSA).

Figure 17: SAR service explanation. Source: GSA

There are a few reasons for a big company like Airbus to embark in these endeavors. For once, the projects are financed by European funds, paid via European Commission and European Space Agency, aka by Taxpayers.

The ESA runs in quotas known as Georeturn. Every two years, ministers from all the participating countries in ESA join in a Ministerial Council, to decide for which projects their countries are going to chip in. There are a series of mandatory programmes, and some optional ones. Spain was in difficulties lately, since due to the economic crisis they decided not to comply even with the mandatory parts, which seriously risked the future of the ESAC facilities in the outskirts of Madrid. The decision is even more controversial, considering the 1/1 policy, where if a country provides 1 euro in contribution, is due to receive 1 euro in work. The concept wanted to generate specific know-how in all participating countries, which is partially happening –diversifying the industry, with Spanish companies Deimos or GMV opening sites in Portugal, Poland or Rumania-, but is also leading to a dominance of the most economic powerful countries, like Germany, which controls half of the European ISS budget, and thus the Flight Control Team is located in Munich, and the European Astronaut Center in Cologne.

Part of the reason behind the European institutions supporting space projects, is the possibility of opening the available data to researchers, pumping investigation and future applications of the resulting new technologies, as a societal and market strategy. Many Earth Observation programs (such as Copernicus) have their data completely available online, which can be used for tide control, rescue on sea, atmospheric monitoring, forest and fire control, etc.

Another motivation for Space missions in big companies is the possibility of testing new technologies, as it is happening with Quantum Computing or quantum Communications. One good way of doing this though, cheaper and faster than going on a satellite mission, is using a parabolic flight or a sounding rocket like the TEXUS missions, in order to achieve microgravity and thus study the pure interactions and behaviour of elements, without the additional forces and frictions they stand in Earth. This can help tuning-in the modelling of tools for their industrialization and exploitation.

Figure 16: TEXUS sounding rocket for experiments in microgravity. Source: ADS

One good example for Earth Observation missions, already mentioned, is the European Commision’s Copernicus programme, managed by ESA, of which they say « will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security”. This will comprise up to 30 satellites with different instruments, serving scientific applications.

The different missions are named Sentinel, and from those in orbit, three are more related to water phenomena. Sentinel-1 is a polar-orbiting, all-weather, day-and-night radar imaging mission for land and ocean services. Sentinel-1A was launched on 3 April 2014 and Sentinel-1B on 25 April 2016. Both were taken into orbit on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Sentinel-3 is a multi-instrument mission to measure sea-surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, ocean colour and land colour with high-end accuracy and reliability. The mission will support ocean forecasting systems, as well as environmental and climate monitoring. Its Ocean and Land Colour Instrument Provide data for a variety of marine biogeochemical products including algal pigment concentration, total suspended matter, coloured dissolved organic matter and Chlorophyll-a, amongst others. Information such as this will, for example, help to improve the prediction of harmful algal blooms. In turn, this will help oceanic food sources to be managed more efficiently. The input of waste products into ocean and coastal waters can also be monitored so that the possibility of accidents and risks of major pollution incidents can be reduced.

Figure 17: Sentinel-6’s Radar altimeter. Source: ADS

Sentinel-6 carries a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height, primarily for operational oceanography and for climate studies. Do you have an idea for the next generation of Sentinel satellites?

Further initiatives are born as an attachment or complement to the existing ones. ADS is finalizing a new external platform to facilitate access to Space to smaller institutions and researchers, honoring ISS’s Nobel prize for Peace as in world collaboration candidature, called BARTOLOMEO; in a similar way tan for instance Nanoracks does in the US privately. The advantage for European Citizens and institutions being again the possibility of using Georeturn thanks to one countries ministry of industry or Space Agency. In this matter, ADS can help making the experiment fly and providing the appropriate context for financing and help. Please visit the Airbus BARTOLOMEO website and contact us either there or directly to the author of this article for this or other collaboration schemes.

Figure 18: BARTOLOMEO platform outside ISS for experimental research. Source: ADS


Is Space important for us? Yes, cataclysms will come and Earth will die at some point. Thus, we will become extinct if we do not become a multiplanetary species. Does Space technology affect our daily lives? Again, yes. Computers are the result of the Space Race and the development of Silicon technologies. Life has obviously changed and become more comfortable, with a higher quality of life for humanity, thanks to it (even if some people use a device which fits in your pocket and provides you all the knowledge in the world, mostly to send videos of cats, or worse, to give them thumbs up). Many people are not passionate about Space, but you do not need to be to participate in these quests, since everyone’s interest is in stake, as well as potential applications for all fields, as has been discussed in this article. Do you use GPS? Then you may thank space tech for it. Did you enjoy watching the Olympic Games? Again, telecom satellites are your friends. And an infinite number of applications are available nowadays thanks to the development of space technologies.

The future shows a fast changing horizon, but two main challenges lie ahead: quantum physics technology for computing and secure communications, and space exploration. The latter cannot be done without water involvement, and the first will be used to improve our climate control (maybe even generate it and properly control it in electromagnetic fields -Elon Musk dixit- on other planetary bodies), and to monitor our Earthly resources, from which water is our most precious. In this context, collaboration between all science fields is more than welcomed, needed, in order to achieve large challenging endeavors like these ones, which are a defining crossroads for humanity’s future.

For we are water, and it is important to remember who and what we are (made of) before reaching for the stars. Be water my friends.


Context of the article

On November 23th, Diego Pozo, a Spanish space engineer, offered to the Young Water Professionals network a fantastic webinar about “Water in Space”.

In this series of 4 articles Diego explains us the content of his webinar for the people who couldn’t assist and for the not YWP members. Was a great webinar and is a great series of articles, so, in the name of all YWP’s all over the world, thank you Diego!!

You can read the previous chapters here

Water in space. 1 Experiments in micro gravity

Water in space. 2 Water and wastewater

Water in space. 3 Space exploration

About the author

From the Panrico Donuts Factory to the stars: Diego Pozo is a space passionate engineer, who left Sevilla in Spain to travel the world specializing in Space Science and Technology thanks to an Erasmus Mundus programme (Spacemaster), to then live or work in up to 9 countries for several Space systems (mostly Telecommunications and GNSS), ISS Operations, Telecom Satellite Operations and recently Space Strategy for future missions for Airbus Defence and Space. He is also a novelist in utero, thus be ready for his first Sci-Fi novel coming soon, based on the Space Colony of Titan: Paralelo.



  1. Status of ISS Water Management and Recovery; L. carter, C. brown, N. Orozco, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  2. Upgrades to the ISS Water Recovery System; M. Pruitt, L. Carter, R. M. Bagdigian and M. J.. Kayatin, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, for the  45th International Conference on Environmental Systems, 2015
  3. NASA Science: Water on the Space Station. Link: 
  4. ESA’s Moon Village article. Link:
  5. Austrian Space Forum for analog Astronauts. Link:
  6. ESA’s JUICE. Link: 
  7. Exoplanets list within the habitable zone in Wikipedia. Link: ]; as well as the quest for Exoplanets, link:
  8. ESA’s Rosetta main website. Link:
  9. Rosetta wakes up from hibernation. Link: 
  10. Rosetta unveils comet’s water cycle. Link: 
  11. ROSINA instrument and comet’s water cycle. Link:
  12. ROSINA instrument website. Link:
  13. Evolution of water production of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko: an empirical model and a multi-instrument study; various authors; September 2016; Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 462, Issue Suppl_1, 16 November 2016, Pages S491–S506. Link:
  14. GSA website. Link: