Launching Sentinel-3A

It is now just over a week since the launch of the Sentinel-3A Copernicus satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, in Russia, and EUMETSAT has already started supporting in-orbit activities to be ready for the full handover of the satellite from ESA that is scheduled for July 2016.

The launch of the satellite was watched by thousands online and was even captured shooting through the Northern lights in Karigasniemi, Finland by photographer Antero Isola , almost 1500 Km away from Plesetsk, in this amazing video published on a Finnish news website.

As part of the Copernicus programme, EUMESTAT will operate Sentinel-3 and deliver the marine data. To provide an inside view on what this involves, EUMETSAT published a series of interviews with the focus of “Working on Sentinel-3” which feature prominent team members involved in the design of the mission, in operating it and in data distribution.

On the operational side, Marc Cohen, Associate Director of EUMETSAT’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Division, highlighted the importance of EUMETSAT’s experience with users and explained why EUMETSAT, as operator of the marine mission, is a particular fitting choice: “the three marine missions on Sentinel-3 complement EUMETSAT’s current contributions to operational oceanography”, providing eventually for more complete and accurate data.

Sentinel-3 Project Manager Hilary Wilson showed the innovative features of Sentinel-3: the satellite is highly automated and will only require one pass per day for commanding, making it a very cost-efficient mission.

Expanding on this topic, Sentinel-3 Spacecraft Operations Manager Dominique Montero highlighted the differences in operating a more automated satellite such as Sentinel-3 compared to satellites in similar orbits such as Metop.

Systems Operations Manager Kevin Marston talked about the challenges that this new operational system will bring to daily routines.

EUMETSAT will deliver Sentinel-3 sea surface temperature, ocean colour and ocean surface topography products of increasing maturity to users, capitalising on the calibration and validation programme established with ESA.

Remote sensing scientist Anne O’Carroll focused on the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) explaining that it has been specifically designed to take two views of its path as it orbits around the Earth that will provide for higher accuracy in data collection. These measurements will also be used to correct other surface data sources making it a very innovative tool.

EUMETSAT’s ocean colour expert, Ewa Kwiatkowska, focused on the importance of monitoring ocean colour  and the capabilities of the new ocean and land colour instrument (OLCI) .

On top of that, EUMETSAT altimetry expert, Hans Bonekamp, gave an overview of Sentinel-3A’s contribution to operational oceanography explaining how the mission will fit in among others and how the altimeter will monitor ocean surface topography.

Finally, all marine data collected by Sentinel-3A will be distributed on a full, free and open basis to all users, as mentioned by Dany Provost, EUMETSAT’s Copernicus Programme and Service Manager. EUMETSAT will distribute Sentinel’s data products to the Copernicus services ensuring access to new data to our Member States and creating the way for new applications.

EUMETSAT User Relations Manager Sally Wannop then explained how EUMETSAT will deliver its marine data stream to the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) and ultimately provide all service providers and users in the EU and EUMETSAT Member States equal access.

More information about the status of Sentinel-3A can be found here.