August 2, 2016


General Organization

The overall mission is under European Space Agency (ESA) responsibility and implemented in cooperation with the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES - France) and the Centre for Technical and Industrial Development (CDTI - Spain).

An Agreement signed between ESA and CNES defines the cooperation's terms and conditions for the implementation of the SMOS mission. In this cooperative framework, ESA provides the payload and launcher, and covers the Payload Data Processing Ground Segment (DPGS) development for level 1 and 2 data, on behalf of Spain through CDTI funding. CNES provides a Proteus Platform, performs all the satellite activities, Spacecraft Operations Ground Segment (SOGS) development and related operations over the mission duration. CNES is also in charge of the Centre Aval de Traitement des Données SMOS (CATDS) development dedicated to data products at levels 3 and 4.

An ESA SMOS Project Manager is responsible for the overall project management and the management of ESA activities, in accordance with ESA Rules and procedures. He is supported by the SMOS Lead Investigator and the CNES Project Manager who functionally reports to him. The CNES Project Manager is responsible for the management of CNES activities, in accordance with CNES Rules and Procedures. To conduct project implementation, parties have approved a SMOS Project Implementation Plan (PIP) which defines the mission planning, the list of what each party provides, the conduct of mission operations and data delivery.

In order to supervise the activities of the Parties, a SMOS Inter-Agency Board (IAB) is established to provide any necessary guidance and to resolve any technical or programmatic issues which may have significant impact on the activities of the Parties. The IAB is co-chaired by ESA and CNES representatives with possible invitation of nominated observers. The SMOS Lead Investigator is a member of the IAB. The Project Managers also participates to IAB meetings, in particular for reporting any issue remaining unsolved at their level.

For the Science activities, ESA relies on an Advisory group of scientists: the SMOS Science Advisory Group (SMOS SAG). This group is chaired by the Lead investigator (Y. Kerr CESBIO) and Co-chaired by the Ocean Salinity Co-Lead Investigator (J. Font, ICM CSIC). The Secretary is M. Berger (ESA). The role of the SAG is to provide advice to ESA and to co-ordinate scientific activities performed by Expert Support Laboratories (ESL).

The mission organization includes the ESA ESTEC and ESRIN Centres, the ESA Outstation of Villafranca and the French CNES - Toulouse Centre.

Scientific Organization

The SMOS Mission was proposed in 1998 by an international science team led by Yann Kerr (see proposal). The science team—though it has slightly evolved and increased over the past 7 years—is still organized roughly in the same way with 4 main types of activities, centred around land surfaces, oceans, cryosphere and image reconstruction and calibration. There are obviously cross-cutting activities (meteorology, climatology, validation and field campaigns, joint activities with Hydros and Aquarius projects, etc.).
The group gathers formally for the SMOS workshops and for activity planning and campaign execution and analysis. The group also co-ordinates answer to the call for tenders to ensure maximum efficiency. Scientific publications and results are distributed at SMOS dedicated sessions in international meetings (IGARSS, EGU, etc.) while the team tries to keep an up-to-date list of publications (see CESBIO's SMOS web page), and the most significant reports are available online on the same web page.

The project has direct contacts with the science team and its representatives but also relies on the SMOS SAG to provide advice when choices / trade-offs have to be made.

At the national level, groups exist in different countries. In France, science activities are co-ordinated through a group of scientists reporting to the TOSCA (for Terre Océans, Surfaces Continentales, Atmosphère) CNES Group.

French Participation

CNES is responsible towards ESA for the French technical part of this project.

CNES supports ESA for the overall system engineering, definition and performing of system level tests.

CNES provides the integrated and tested PROTEUS platform with the adaptations in accordance with the Mission Requirements, performs all the satellite activities (engineering, integration of the payload with the PROTEUS platform) and delivers to ESA a fully integrated, tested, and qualified spacecraft at the launch site.

To support the launch services provided by ESA, CNES manages and performs technical analysis of launcher interfaces and spacecraft launch operations.

As contribution to the development and exploitation of the SMOS ground segment, CNES adapts the PROTEUS-generic-based SOGS in accordance with the Mission Requirements, and will perform SOGS operations of the satellite during LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase), in-flight check-out phase and throughout the mission life.

During the satellite operation in orbit performed by CNES, ESA manages the payload operations by transmitting to CNES the telecommands generated by the PLPC and to be uploaded to the payload.

CNES develops CATDS, which will supply the level 3 and 4 data processing algorithms, and generate data products at levels 3 and 4.

Many French Scientific laboratories are involved in the SMOS project, mainly CESBIO, IPSL, CNRM, INRA, CETP, CEMAGREF, LTHE, SiSyphe, LMD, IRD, Meudon Observatory, LODyC (LOCEAN), IRPHE, IFREMER, CLS, LEGOS.

CESBIO is responsible for the scientific activities and provides services related to the scientific instrument definition. As part of a joint verification effort, during the commissioning phase, CESBIO will also:

  • perform evaluation and calibration/validation campaigns in order to verify the performance achieved in orbit by the MIRAS instrument,
  • verify instrument calibration and performances during routine phase with the support of French research organizations,
  • data assessment and calibration/validation with the science team.