Russia launched a satellite designed to probe the surface of Earth last week. The Monitor-E satellite lifted off on a Rokot carrier rocket from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia. The 750-kilogram satellite was put into a Sun-synchronous orbit 540 km above Earth one and a half hours later. The Monitor-E will be used to assess the aftermath of emergency situations, map surface areas, survey agriculture and forestry conditions. It can also be helpful in ecological monitoring, geological cartography and the search for mineral resources. It is designed to operate for five years.