July 26, 2016


Joint management and science teams will guarantee efficient project implementation and optimum scientific results. The Merlin mission involves the following parties:

  • the French space agency, CNES (Centre National d’Études Spatiales),
  • the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Centre, DLR,
  • French and German laboratories,
  • French industry,
  • German industry.


The undertakings of CNES and DLR for the overall Merlin project are as follows:

  • CNES, as system and satellite prime contractor:
    • conducts system and satellite activities, including defining the system architecture and designing the satellite around a MYRIADE Evolutions platform,
    • is in charge of the satellite Control Ground Segment (CGS),
    • is responsible for developing the operational level 0, 2 and 3 data processors.

  • DLR, as payload prime contractor:
    • conducts payload activities, including IPDA Lidar payload development, up to integration in the satellite and functional verification,
    • is in charge of the Payload Operation Centre (PLOC),
    • is responsible for developing the operational level 1 data processor.

Science Advisory Group

In addition, a Science Advisory Group composed of the main experts on the scientific aspects of the project gives advice on:

  • the formulation of detailed scientific mission objectives and their translation into observational requirements and payload design requirements,
  • the definition of scientific studies to demonstrate the mission’s scientific benefit,
  • the determination of data products and algorithm requirements (based on the general data processing scheme) in addition to advice on validation of the Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document(s) (ATBD),
  • supporting ground processing, including data access and delivery,
  • payload calibration (pre-launch and in-orbit, if necessary),
  • the choice of methods and the required accuracy of geophysical validation.
  • the development of a joint scientific management plan related to data data processing and exploitation.

The Science Advisory Group is co-chaired by the two designated Principal Investigators (PI)

Other Contributors

CNES Toulouse has selected Airbus Defence and Space France Toulouse as satellite prime contractor which responsibilities encompass the design, development and validation of the platform, as well as the engineering, integration, test, verification and validation of the satellite, including its transport to the launch site and the launch campaign.

Airbus Defence and Space GmbH is the industrial prime contractor for the development of the Merlin IPDA Lidar instrument and development of the ground segment involving a German participation. It coordinates the work of all the sub-contractors.

The organization of the industrial project team in charge of developing the Control Ground Segment is based on a consortium led by IT services company Atos.

French laboratories are involved in various Merlin activities, such as development of a numerical data simulator, contribution to the Algorithm Theoretical Baseline Document (ATBD), development of science prototypes, characterisation of CH4 line spectroscopy, participation in the definition of the in-orbit checkout, and validation and calibration campaigns,


French laboratories involved in Merlin project