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What is the Sentinel Mission?

Sentinel-2B launches Successfully from Europe’s Spaceport, Kourou, French Guiana
Sentinel-2B launches Successfully from Europe’s Spaceport, Kourou, French Guiana

As Arianespace’s Vega rocket lifted the Sentinel-2B Earth observation satellite into orbit on March 7 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, making it the fifth satellite launched for the Copernicus program’s Sentinel mission, we summarize what exactly the Sentinel Mission entails.

• Sentinels are part of the ambitious Copernicus program, the world’s largest earth observation program, directed by European Commission in partnership with European Space Agency.
• Sentinel is the space segment of Copernicus, consisting of six different types of satellite to study different aspects of the planet.
• As of now, 6 Sentinel missions have been planned; some are already up there, others yet to be launched.
• Sentinels are designed to fly in pairs to shorten revisit time to any one point on Earth.
Sentinel-1 is a radar constellation that can see the Earth’s surface in all weathers, and its twins are fully operational in orbit since 2016.
• Sentinel-2 is a multi-wavelength mission to study principally land changes. Sentinel-2A was launched on June 23, 2015, while its twin joined it today.
• Sentinel-3 predominantly carries ocean sensors to observe their properties and behavior. Sentinel-3A was launched on January 16, 2016 and Sentinel-3B is scheduled for launch in 2018.
• Sentinel-4 will have a high-orbiting sensor to measure atmospheric gases.
• Sentinel-5 will have low-orbiting atmospheric sensor to help monitor air quality
• Sentinel-6 is a future version of NASA’s Jason ocean height series.
• Even though Sentinel 4, 5 and 6 have no presence in orbit yet and are either in manufacturing or conception stages, EU and ESA are already in talks to extend the Sentinel mission.
• Sentinel 7 is envisaged to be a constellation of satellites that monitors CO2.
• Sentinel 8 could be a thermal infrared sensor for understanding natural disasters like drought.
• Sentinel 9 is envisaged to be a polar mission to study thickness of ice surfaces and provide better weather imaging and communications at high latitudes.