Sentinel-2A Earth observation satellite set to launch

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An optical imaging satellite that will provide high-resolution multispectral images of Earth is set to launch into space on 22 June.

Sentinel-2A, the first optical imaging satellite in Europe’s Copernicus environmental surveillance programme, will launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 22:51 local time on 22 June (01:51 GMT, 23 June).

The mission carries a high-resolution multispectral camera with 13 spectral bands. The satellite will provide data for various applications, among which are monitoring agricultural practices and mapping changes in land cover.

It will also provide information on pollution in lakes and coastal waters, as well as contributing to mapping floods, volcanic eruptions and landslides in order to aid humanitarian relief efforts.

The satellite has a field of vision covering 290km, and its frequent revisit times will provide unprecedented views of Earth.

Sentinel-2A is part of Europe’s Copernicus programme, an ambitious Earth observation programme headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). Copernicus will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.

The mission is based on a constellation of two identical satellites Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-2B, launched separately. Once launched, both satellites will cover all land surfaces, large islands, and inland and coastal waters every five days.

Sentinel-1, which is already in orbit, and Sentinel-2 are both also equipped to benefit from another ESA programme, the European Data Relay System (EDRS). EDRS is creating a network 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.

Sentinel-2A complements the radar imagery provided by the first in the Sentinel fleet, Sentinel-1A, launched on 3 April 2014. Sentinel-2B is scheduled for launch in mid-2016.

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