ESA Picks Flex for Next Earth Explorer

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PARIS — The European Space Agency on Nov. 19 confirmed that it had accepted a science panel’s recommendation that the Fluorescence Explorer (Flex) satellite would be the agency’s next Earth Explorer environment-monitoring satellite.

Flex, which is likely to cost about 300 million euros ($320 million), is scheduled for launch in 2022. It was selected ahead of a carbon- and methane-monitoring satellite, called CarbonSat, that ESA has nonetheless promised to reconsider in the agency’s next Earth Explorer selection process.

Flex will fly in tandem with Europe’s Sentinel 3 satellite, one of a series of environment-monitoring spacecraft funded by the European Commission.

European governments will highlight their elaborate environmental satellite system, funded by ESA, the European Commission and individual national governments, and costing billions of euros, during the COP21 United Nations climate change meeting of heads of state Nov. 30-Dec. 11 in Paris.