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ESA’s Sentinel-2A satellite will provide unprecedented Earth monitoring

on 15 June 2015

Sentinel-2A is set for launch from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on 23 June at 04:52 Romania time (22 June, 22:52 local time) aboard a Vega rocket, making it the second satellite in orbit for Europe's Copernicus programme, which is headed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).

By supplying 'colour vision' for Copernicus, Sentinel-2A will perfectly complement the all-weather, day-and-night radar imagery provided by the first in the Sentinel fleet, Sentinel-1A, launched on 3 April 2014.

The mission is based on a constellation of two identical satellites, Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-2B, launched separately and placed in the same orbit. Every five days, the satellites will jointly cover all land surfaces, large islands, and inland and coastal waters between latitudes 56°S and 84°N, optimising global coverage and data delivery for numerous applications.
The mission carries an innovative high-resolution multispectral camera with 13 spectral bands for a new perspective of land and vegetation. The combination of high resolution, novel spectral capabilities, a field of vision covering 290 km and frequent revisit times will provide unprecedented views of Earth.

Among its applications, the mission will provide information for agricultural practices, helping in the management of food security. It will also be used to map the status and changes in land cover and to monitor the world's forests. Furthermore, it will provide information on pollution in lakes and coastal waters, while images of floods, volcanic eruptions and landslides will contribute to disaster mapping and help humanitarian relief efforts. 

Sentinel-2, like Sentinel-1, is equipped to benefit from another ESA programme, the European Data Relay System (EDRS). EDRS is creating a network of geostationary laser communication payloads for the continuous relay of low-orbit satellite data and will enable the Sentinel's Earth observation data to be transmitted faster than ever, using laser links.

Sentinels are crucial investments to deliver a wide spectrum of operational data over a period of 20 years to benefit European citizens. In the year Sentinel-1A has been in service, more than 7000 users have registered to access some 145 000 different online data products, and over a million downloads - the equivalent of some 1.3 terabytes of data - have been recorded.

Sentinel-2A is the result of a close collaboration between ESA, the European Commission, industry, service providers and data users. It is designed and built by a consortium of 60 companies led by Airbus Defence and Space.

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

This video shows Sentinel-2A in preparation in Germany and in Kourou, and contains explanations regarding the challenges of this mission launched by the fifth Vega.

More information about Sentinel are available here.

More information about Copernicus are available here.

More information about EDRS are available here

Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab