Sentinel-2: Europe's new Earth Observation satellite ready

Sentinel-2 (Image: ESA/S. Corvaja)

The lead spacecraft built within the Europe's new Earth observation (EO) programme is ready to go into orbit. Sentinel-2a will track everything from the growth of megacities to the variable yields of the world's most important food crops through pictures of the planet's surface. The satellite's launch on a Vega rocket has been scheduled for 12 June 2015.

According to Volker Liebig, the European Space Agency's EO director, "Sentinel-2 is the workhorse of the system. It gives us the optical component. Optical imagery is the backbone for most applications in Earth observation."

The imaging instrument of the European version will be sensitive across 13 multispectral bands of light, allowing it to discern more information about the Earth's surface. It will also "carpet map" a strip of ground of 290 km and its colour images have a resolution of 10m.

The combination of Sentinel-2a with existing satellites, such as Landsat-8, will reduce the time to get a completely clear view of some places from months, or even years, to less than a week. 


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