The extension of the Envisat mission through to 2013, prolonging the highly successful programme, has been unanimously approved by the European Space Agency (ESA)member states.

Envisat or ‘environment satellite’ has been collecting data about the Earth’s atmosphere, land, sea and ice, to provide scientists with a detailed picture of the state of the planet.

The extension of the mission will enable scientists to access data over longer periods of time to identify and analyse long-term climatic trends and changes such as greenhouse gas concentrations, sea surface temperature, sea levels and sea ice extent.

The satellite is fitted with a suite of ten instruments, which provide near real-time data monitoring sea ice, oil slicks and illegal fisheries.

The satellite also offers daily data for worldwide fire maps, UV radiation levels and ozone forecasts.

This mission has been supplying data since 2002 following the success of the ERS-1 and ERS-2 satellites.

Envisat will later be replaced by Sentinel satellites under the global monitoring for environment and security (GMES) initiative.