ESA launches new ground-monitoring satellite

Sentinel-2 will track terrain, ocean and environmental changes

The European Space Agency (ESA) successfully launched a second satellite for environmental monitoring in the early hours of Tuesday morning from French Guiana.

The Sentinel satellite will add high-resolution optical imaging capability to the European Union's Copernicus environmental monitoring system.

According to the ESA, “the 1.1 tonne satellite was carried on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou at 01:52. The first stage separated one min 52 sec after liftoff, followed by the second stage and fairing at three min 37 sec and three min 54 sec, respectively, and the third stage at six min 32 sec."

"After a first ignition, seven min 42 sec after liftoff, followed by two re-ignitions, Vega’s upper stage delivered Sentinel-2A into the targeted Sun-synchronous orbit," the space body continued.

The satellite’s solar panel has already been deployed and in about three days’ time, controllers in Germany will begin checking and calibrating the instruments.

The mission is expected to begin operations in three or four months.

At part of the EU’s Copernicus environmental monitoring network, the satellite will provide operational information on the world’s land surfaces, oceans and atmosphere. Data will be provided on a free and open basis.

Raw data will be analysed, processed and harmonised by public and private sector service providers.

“Sentinel-2 is the second satellite of a constellation of 20 satellites which will scrutinise planet Earth and will vastly improve the ability of Copernicus to provide European citizens with the most comprehensive data for environmental and security applications available anywhere in the world,” said ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain.

Sentinel-2B, its twin satellite, is scheduled for launch in mid-2016. ®

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