New Copernicus satellite to monitor sea-level rise launched



The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite has been launched into orbit round Earth on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Using the newest radar altimetry expertise, this new satellite is about to  present a brand new overview of ocean topography and advance the long-term document of sea-surface peak measurements that started in 1992 – measurements which can be important for local weather science, for policy-making and, in the end, for shielding the lives of thousands and thousands prone to sea-level rise.

Carrying the 1.2 tonne Sentinel-6 satellite, the Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US, at 17:17 GMT (18:17 CET, 09:17 PST) on 21 November. The satellite was delivered into orbit just below an hour after liftoff and call was established on the floor station in Alaska at 19:49 CET.

Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich liftoff replay

ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, mentioned, “I’m extremely proud to have seen Copernicus Sentinel-6 liftoff this evening and know that it’s well on its way to starting its mission of continuing the measurements of sea level that are so needed to understand and monitor the worrying trend of rising seas. I would not only like to thank the ESA teams that have worked so hard to get to this point, but also the EC, Eumetsat, NASA, NOAA and CNES, and, of course, we very much look forward to further fruitful cooperation between our respective organisations.”With thousands and thousands of individuals residing in coastal communities world wide, rising seas are on the prime of the record of main considerations linked to local weather change. Monitoring sea-surface peak is essential to understanding the modifications going down in order that decision-makers have the proof to implement applicable insurance policies to assist curb local weather change and for authorities to take motion to defend weak communities.Over the final three many years, the French–US Topex-Poseidon and Jason mission collection served as reference missions, and together with ESA’s earlier ERS and Envisat satellites, in addition to right this moment’s CryoSat and Copernicus Sentinel-3, they’ve proven how sea degree has risen about 3.2 mm on common yearly. More alarmingly, this price of rise has been accelerating; over the previous couple of years, the typical price of rise has been 4.eight mm a yr.

Measuring sea-level change
Now in orbit, Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will quickly decide up the baton and prolong this dataset – a dataset that’s the ‘gold standard’ for local weather research. The mission contains two an identical satellites launched sequentially – so in 5 years, Copernicus Sentinel-6B will likely be launched to take over. The mission as a complete will make sure the continuity of knowledge till no less than 2030.Each satellite carries a radar altimeter, which works by measuring the time it takes for radar pulses to journey to Earth’s floor and again once more to the satellite. Combined with exact satellite location knowledge, altimetry measurements yield the peak of the ocean floor.The satellites’ instrument package deal additionally consists of a complicated microwave radiometer that accounts for the quantity of water vapour in environment, which impacts the velocity of the altimeter’s radar pulses.

Copernicus Sentinel-6 in motion

While heritage has been key to the mission’s design, Sentinel-6 brings, for the primary time, artificial aperture radar into the altimetry reference mission time collection. To be certain that no bias is launched into the time collection, the radar instrument operates in a steady burst mode, concurrently offering typical low-resolution mode measurements and the improved efficiency of artificial aperture radar processing.To be certain that the information time collection is steady regardless of the change of instrument applied sciences, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is spending its first yr in orbit flying simply 30 seconds behind Jason-3.

Copernicus Sentinel-6 orbital tracks
Orbiting at an altitude of over 1300 km and reaching 66°N and 66°S, Sentinel-6 gives enough measurements to map the peak of the ocean floor over 95% of the world’s ice-free oceans each 10 days.While Sentinel-6 is among the European Union’s household of Copernicus missions, its implementation is the results of a singular cooperation between the European Commission ESA, Eumetsat, NASA and NOAA, with contribution from the CNES French area company.The European Commission’s Director-General for Defence Industry and Space, Timo Pesonen, mentioned, “We are very pleased to welcome this newcomer to the EU’s fleet of Copernicus Sentinel satellites. Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will enable delivering enhanced products and information concerning the oceans and the atmosphere to improve the daily lives of our citizens. The arrival of this satellite is another success for Copernicus, for Europe, for all mission partners and worldwide.”ESA has been liable for the event of the Poseidon-Four radar altimeter and improvement of the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, as a complete. It can be liable for the procurement of Copernicus Sentinel-6B on behalf of the European Commission and Eumetsat.

Copernicus Sentinel-6 on its approach
Transfer of possession goes to the EC on the level of liftoff. ESA takes care of the early orbit part in addition to in-orbit verification planning, and helps flight operations carried out by Eumetsat.Eumetsat is liable for the event of the bottom section and for operations after the launch and early orbit phases. Eumetsat processes the information and delivers the information merchandise providers to European customers.Eumetsat’s Director General, Alain Ratier, mentioned, “Data from Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will be the most accurate yet and will be used to gain a deeper understanding of global sea-level rise, a key indicator of climate change. The data will also be used for weather forecasting, from improving the accuracy of seasonal forecasts to predicting the tracks of hurricanes and cyclones.”

NASA has the duty for the launch providers, the event of the microwave radiometer, the laser retroreflector and GNSS radio occultation receiver. It additionally gives floor section assist and contributes to the operations and knowledge processing within the US. NASA and NOAA share duty for the distribution of knowledge merchandise to customers within the US.“Mike Freilich helped ensure NASA was a steadfast partner with scientists and space agencies worldwide, and his love of oceanography and Earth science helped us improve the understanding of our beautiful planet,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science at the Agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “This satellite, so graciously named for him by our European partners, will carry out the critical work Mike so believed in – adding to a legacy of crucial data about our oceans and paying it forward for the benefit of future generations.”

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