April 27, 2015

CNES and Airbus Defence and Space kick off French-German MERLIN mission

CNES and Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) have signed a contract to develop the MERLIN satellite for an innovative French-German space mission to monitor methane in Earth’s atmosphere.

The MERLIN space mission is set to significantly enhance our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms driving the methane cycle. The mission is being pursued in partnership by CNES, the German space agency DLR and research laboratories in Germany and France that will be exploiting the science data (LSCE, LMD, LATMOS and IPSL, attached to CNRS, the French national scientific research centre). It stems from a policy commitment by the two nations at the COP15 summit in Copenhagen in 2009 to develop a joint climate-observing project.

Development and validation of the generic Myriade Evolutions spacecraft bus around which MERLIN is to be built will get €40 million in funding from the French government’s PIA future investment programme. One of the aims of this programme is to foster involvement of French SMEs and mid-tier firms.

The mission payload, to be built in Germany, comprises an active lidar instrument that will use a laser operating at two different wavelengths to precisely measure methane concentration in Earth’s atmosphere. Delivery of the payload by DLR is planned early in 2019 for launch of the mission the same year. The nominal mission lifetime is three years.

On the signing of the contract, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “This contract shows CNES and Airbus Defence and Space’s strong commitment to accomplishing the MERLIN mission, which is set to significantly enhance our understanding of Earth’s environment. For France, climate will be taking centre stage this year with the COP21 global climate summit in Paris, and missions decided in recent months, like MERLIN, are testament to CNES’s keen focus on space for climate in 2015 and beyond.”

Pascale Bresson    Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 75 39    pascale.bresson@cnes.fr
Alain Delrieu    Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 74 04    alain.delrieu@cnes.fr
Julien Watelet    Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 78 37    julien.watelet@cnes.fr
Press office    Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 76 88    cnes-presse@cnes.fr

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