Unique radar instrument for first Copernicus satellite opens new era of environmental...

Unique radar instrument for first Copernicus satellite opens new era of environmental observation

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Unique radar instrument for first Copernicus satellite opens new era of environmental observation (c) Airbus Defence and SpaceFrance: Pre-launch preparations for the Sentinel-1A satellite, carrying an Airbus Defence and Space built radar instrument, are in full swing at Europe's Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana. The satellite, built by Thales Alenia Space Italy as prime contractor, set to be launched on 3 April 2014 by a Soyuz launcher, will mark a new era of Earth observation.

Sentinel-1A carries the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Antenna Subsystem (SAS) which will be able to acquire an immense amount of data due to its continuous operation capability. Although complex data compression mechanism is provided, the Sentinel-1A satellite communication system will deliver up to 8,000 Gbits of imagery data every day for the next 7 years.

Sentinel-1A, a SAR imaging satellite, will be joined by its’ twin (Sentinel-1B) around the end of next year to form the European Radar Observatory. This will complete the Sentinel-1polar orbiting constellation, which will significantly improve accessibility and time performance of the overall system (revisit and response time), further reinforcing the system capability to provide continuous all-weather round the clock imagery for marine, land monitoring and emergency services.

The two SAR instruments, which make these satellites the flexible and powerful tools that they are, were developed by Airbus Defence and Space who have a long history of Earth observation Radar instruments for the European Space Agency ESA. As well as having had overall industrial responsibility for the European ERS-1/ERS-2 satellites launched in 1991 and 1995 respectively and Envisat launched in 2001, Airbus Defence and Space has also developed and built the AMI (ERS), ASAR (Envisat) and ASCAT (MetOp) radar payloads. Airbus Defence and Space has been the prime contractor for the German TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X radar satellite projects.

Source: Airbus Group