Sentinel-2a is a hi-tech satellite created by the European Space Agency (ESA), and it was launched into orbit from Kourou (French Guiana) on Monday, June 22. The satellite was on a Vega rocket when it was sent up, and its mission is to bring back pictures of the Earth’s surface in infrared and visible light.
The Sentinel-2a is the space agencies’ newest multi-billion dollar member of the Copernicus Earth-Observation Project. It has been designed to take high-resolution images and observe the Earth 488 miles above its surface. The satellite’s data will gather information on natural disasters, and the growth of mega cities along with their destructions. The European Space Agency also designed the Sentinel-2a to monitor the world’s food crops, stresses of water, and monitor the coverage of the forest.
The hi-tech satellite which has been launched by European Space Agency is said to be the second of the six satellites that has been planned by the ESA’s Copernicus Program. According to the agency, the satellite is made to easily access information which will improve the environments’ management in a timely manner.
The Sentinel-2a is a 1.1 tonne orbiting polar satellite which has been designed to circle the world every 100 minutes. Its partner Sentinel-1a was designed with a cloud radar, and it was launched in April 2014. According to the European Space Agency’s official website Sentinel-1b and 2b will be released in October to December time-frame of 2016.
The hi-tech satellite will monitor the environment with its built-in camera system, which was designed to discern wavelengths that are very specific to lights that detail plant health. Professor Volker Liebig, director of Earth Observation located at the European Space Agency, told BBC, “plants show scientists what they are doing by using their 13 spectral bands which includes four located in the red-edge (a leaf reflectance which has a sharp change of 680-750 nanometers), where chlorophyll and plants reflect light. It is important for monitoring food and the human species, and the World Food Programme uses it to predict and reduce bad harvests; this will stop the rise of prices of produce within the world’s food markets, when there is not a sufficient amount of food to distribute around the world. It is also good for food agencies and international agricultures to notice when famine is taking place.”
After the Sentinel-2a floats around in space for three to four months, it will go into operations after its instrument is calibrated properly and it is thoroughly checked. Now that there is an environmental monitoring satellite and radar satellite currently watching land movements from Earth’s orbit, the European Space Agency’s remaining satellites will focus on the planets atmosphere and oceans. The ESA’s plan is to have two of every hi-tech satellite or sensor orbiting at all times.
The agency is pairing the satellites because they are somewhat reliant on one another; having the various types of controls in space, reduces the amount of time that is needed to visit particular locations. Two satellites allows researchers to obtain closer shots of the ground, because the time lapses will not be that far apart if two of the same satellites are working hand in hand with one another.
European Space Agency’s project manager of Sentinel-2, Francois Spoto told BBC, ” having two satellites allows revisits to the equator to happen every three days instead of five. It will lead to very frequent revisits that have not been done by any of the current sensors that are currently orbiting in space.” The hi-tech satellite which has been launched by the European Space Agency has many great features that help researchers and scientists monitor what is happening around the globe.
By Krystle Mitchell
Edited by Chanel van der Woodsen
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Photo By ESA-M. Pedoussaut Courtesy of ESA_events Flickr Page – Creative Commons License