(video source: European Space Agency on Youtube)
After multiple delayed launches (due to an anomaly after a power outage and bad weather), the earth-observing Sentinel-1B satellite was launched successfully last night, 25th April 2016.
Sentinel-1 is part of the European Space Agency’s Copernicus programme – the largest earth observation programme to date – comprising:
- Sentinel-1 (with a radar imager useful for monitoring changes in earth, ice and sea surfaces in all weather conditions)
- Sentinel-2 (providing multi-spectral images from visible light to infra-red bands, useful for vegetation detection)
- Sentinel-3 (measuring the temperature, colour and height of ocean surfaces in addition to ice thickness)
- Sentinel-4/-5/-5P (measuring atmospheric composition); and
- Sentinel-6 (fitted with a radar altimeter to measure sea-surface heights)
Sentinel-1B joins the identical Sentinel 1A satellite (launched in April 2014), together representing the first “pair” of satellites in the Copernicus operations. The use of two satellites orbiting 180° apart is both reduce overpass time (completing full global coverage complete in just 6 days) and ensures the continuity of data into the future. In the past, satellite programs have been thwarted by failed instruments (e.g. NASA’s Landsat 7).
The Soyuz rocket also gave “a lift” to 3 Cubesat satellites – tiny 10×10×11cm satellites developed in partnership with universities across Europe – and MICROSCOPE, which tests the acceleration of different masses in the low gravitational state of orbit.
Update: Sentinel-1b has started broadcasting live imagery in record breaking time! Only 3 days after launch and 2 hours after being switched on.