Image: Project funded by the European Union

The European GNSS-R Environmental Monitoring (E-GEM, 2014-2016), is a project within the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme aimed to progress in the development of Earth observation techniques through reflectometry of opportunity signals from global navigation satellite systems (such as GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou…). Applications are diverse, including sea conditions, high-precision altimetry, wave height and surface winds on the sea, soil moisture, biomass, and ice fields.

E-GEM involves 10 participant partners, from 6 countries: DEIMOS Engenharia (coordinator) in Portugal, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain, the Institute Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer in France; the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway; the Università de Roma-Tor Vergata and the Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza” in Italy; the Northen Research Institute – Norut in Norway; and the GFZ/Helmholtz-Centre Potsdam in Germany.

Members of IEEC units, therefore, participate in E-GEM: CTE (IEEC-UPC) and ICE (IEEC-CSIC).

With a total budget of 2.8 EUR millions, E-GEM has a European funding of 2 EUR millions.

Three different instruments will be developed within this project, led by different teams:

  • CTE (IEEC-UPC): A reflectometer on board of a nano-satellite (3Cat-2), scheduled to be launched in July 2016. It will be the first GNSS reflectometry satellite able to test the “semicodeless” techniques and GNSS interferometry for altimetry applications, as well as the first one with polarimetric capabilities.

Image of 3Cat-2 with the nadir side up, showing the 6 antennas array with double frequency antennas (L1 and L2) and double polarization (circular to right and left). Credit: Pol Via, CTE (IEEC-UPC).

  • ICE (IEEC-CSIC): An airborne reflectometer specifically designed to flight on board of the CRYOWING MK2, a drone by the Norway company NORUT with 2000 km flight range and able to get up to 4 km. The receiver, named “Software PARIS Interferometric Receiver for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” (SPIR-UAV), registers signals from each of the 6 antenna elements pointing zenit and from the 6 pointing nadir as well, synchronously at 80Msps and with GPS time indication. About 1 TB of raw data are collected every flight hour, and are later processed (electronic pointing of the antennas and demodulation of the GNSS codes, or cross-correlation between direct and reflected signals). This is the first receptor ever developed able to verify synoptic capabilities of the GNSS interferometry technique, which has been chosen by the GEROS-ISS mission.

SPIR-UAV, GNSS reflectometry receptor developed by the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC) to get on board the Cryowings MkII by NORUT. Image: ICE (IEEC-CSIC)
Image of the Cryowing MkII, the biggest drone by NORUT, where SPIR-UAV will be installed. Image: NORUT

  • DEIMOS: A ground-based reflectometer based on GRIP, a GNSS receptor developed by DEIMOS in a FPGA, able of tracking signals of the Galileo system (E1, E5a and/or E5ab AltBOC).

Tests of the SARGO instrument over the Tajo. Image: DEIMOS
Generalitat de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasCentres de Recerca de Catalunya