The Sentinel-3A satellite, built by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency (ESA), was successfully launched on the 17th of February from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia, on a Rockot launch vehicle.
One of the cornerstones in Europe’s vast Copernicus program, the Sentinel-3A satellite features a payload with four state-of-the-art instruments: an altimeter coupled with a microwave radiometer for surface topography; and two instruments that independently measure ocean and land surface colors and temperatures, including lakes and rivers. Sentinel-3A will carry out a number of oceanography, environmental and climate change study missions.
The Sentinel-3A satellite will provide systematic coverage of all land and ocean areas. The data collected by this satellite will help improve forecasts concerning both oceans and the atmosphere. It will also give us a better understanding of the condition and health of our oceans, help us better manage fisheries, agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, water resources, public health, food production and security, and precisely monitor changes in sea levels and the shrinking arctic sea ice.
Sentinel-3A follows Sentinel-1A, also built by Thales Alenia Space and launched on April 3, 2014.Data continuity will be ensured by the other satellites in the two families, Sentinel-1B/C/D and Sentinel-3B/C/D, all built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor. Sentinel-3B is slated for a 2017 launch using Arianespace’s light launcher, Vega. The contract for Sentinel-3C and 3D, to be launched as from 2021, was recently awarded to Thales Alenia Space by ESA, and is worth 450 million euros.
“Following MSG-4 and Jason-3, Sentinel-3A is the third Thales Alenia Space-built satellite dedicated to the climate and the environment to be launched in just over six months,” said Jean Loïc Galle, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space. “We are very proud of the spacecraft launched today, because it once again confirms our company’s benchmark expertise in Earth observation satellites. Thales Alenia Space continues to leverage its skills to help meet the major challenges of the Copernicus program. This also reflects our company’s decisive role, fully in line with Europe’s strategic vision.”