ESAC hosted an internal workshop on 25-26 September 2019 to discuss the processes that govern areas of calibration handled by SCI-O/S across ESA science’s missions.








Calibration is the process of measuring, eliminating, or minimizing factors of an instrument or telescope that cause inaccurate measurements, compared to a standard of known accuracy (or a requirement). It entails the characterization of an instrument or telescope performance, including trending and monitoring, but also the search for solutions to improve the final accuracy of the science data. Those can either be applied before data are acquired, with corrections handled on-board, or retroactively after data are downlinked to the ground. For space missions, the majority of calibration solutions are implemented through software upgrades, since most telescopes are not serviceable and, by-design, the capability to command changes to the hardware from the ground is limited (with exceptions such as focusing mechanisms, adjustable mirror segments, in-situ instruments, etc).
Once ESA science missions are launched, their success is directly impacted by the way they are operated and how the instruments and data are calibrated. Calibration is a fundamental ingredient to ensure that a mission meets its objectives, delivers high-quality data, and enables users to explore its scientific content. It is therefore essential to discuss ESA’s role and responsibility regarding the processes that govern the calibration activities for future space missions of ever-increasing complexity.

This workshop aimed to bring together calibration experts from ESA’s Science Operations and Scientific Support departments to exchange their experience of past and present missions, and the future role of the departments in the calibration of the science missions it supports.

The contributions focused solely on the area of calibration, and present the processes adopted by each mission to:

  1. Manage the distribution of responsibilities amongst mission stakeholders
  2. Define SCI-O/S’s role in (and arrangement of) work done in-house
  3. Handle interfaces between calibration and other mission subsystems (e.g., user support, pipelines, operations, archives) both internal and external to ESA
  4. Ensure the timely delivery of calibrated data
  5. Develop strategies for knowledge preservation
  6. Manage inputs from the community

At the end of the workshop, a picture should emerge on what the critical processes and in-house knowledge are, together with suggestions for improvements for current missions or those in- development, and a roadmap for focused discussions on ESA’s role in the calibration of future missions.

A short report (white-paper) was prepared to capture the main discussion points of the workshop.

Workshop material are available in Livelink at 20190925-CalibrationWorkshop (only authorised users).


  • Catarina Alves de Oliveira (SCI-ODJ)
  • Luca Conversi (OPS-SP)
  • David Williams (SCI-ODS)
  • Matteo Guainazzi (SCI-S)
  • Santa Martinez (SCI-ODC)
  • Tanya Lim (SCI-ODY)
  • Raquel Perez (SCI-OD)