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Sentinel 1-A beams its first radar images

France: Launched on April 3, ESA’s Sentinel-1A satellite has already delivered its first preliminary sets of radar images of Earth. They offer a tantalising glimpse of the kind of operational imagery that this new mission will provide for Europe’s ambitious Copernicus environmental monitoring programme.

Brussels as the first image from Sentinel-1A

The first image shows Brussels in Belgium, the seat of the European Commission. This first image of Belgium was captured on April 12, just one day after the satellite was put into its operational attitude, and demonstrates the potential of Sentinel-1A’s radar vision. The first image, which was acquired in the satellite’s ‘strip map’ mode with a swath width of 80 km, clearly captures the dense urban environment of Brussels shown in white in the middle of the picture. Antwerp can be seen in the top left in red –blue colours and the greens depict vegetation in the surrounding areas. Waterways and low-reflective areas such as airport runways appear black.

Since it was launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, Sentinel-1A has undertaken a complicated routine to deploy its 12-m long radar and two 10-m long solar wings, as well as passing a series of initial instrument checks. The satellite is not yet in its operational orbit, nor is it calibrated for supplying true data. These tasks will be carried out during the commissioning phase, which will take about three months to complete.

The first set of acquisitions also included an area in Namibia that is currently flooded by the Zambezi River. Another images acquired on the same day focuses on Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica.

First Radar Images of Sentinel-1A

Flooding in Namibia Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers Antarctica Peninsula
Flooding in Namibia Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers Antarctica Peninsula

Source: ESA