The ESA’s Sentinel-2A Earth Observation Satellite Successfully Launches

An optical Earth observation satellite successfully launched into space late on Monday, June 22, 2015.


The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-2A blasted into space aboard a Vega rocket from the European spaceport in French Guiana at 10:51 p.m. local time.

After a flight time of slightly more than an hour, the satellite was deployed and its solar panel was extended. Sentinel-2A, developed and constructed for the ESA by Airbus Defence and Space, is ready to begin its mission of observing Earth from its polar orbit approximately 484 miles above the Earth’s surface.


Sentinel-2A is the first in a pair of optical Earth observation satellites that are central to the ESA’s Copernicus program, formerly known as the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security program (GMES). According to the ESA, this is the most ambitious Earth observation program ever conducted.

The ESA describes that its Copernicus program “will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.”

The high-resolution multispectral imager aboard the Sentinel-2A observation satellite will provide scientists with an unprecedented level of detail, and will be able to observe plant growth, monitor forests, and provide information about water pollution. And, through the mapping of natural disasters like volcano eruptions, floods, and landslides, Sentinel-2 will be a great tool to assist with disaster relief efforts.

The ESA plans to launch Sentinel-2B in mid-2016.


The Sentinel-1A satellite was launched in 2014 (with 1B scheduled for launch in 2016). Although 2A just launched, the program is just getting started. There are a total of six pairs of satellites slated for the Copernicus program, which will essentially create a nexus of space-based environmental management tools.

Through the various Sentinel satellite pairs, this ambitious program hopes to gain a wealth of data in order to better monitor weather, atmospheric conditions, surface temperatures, and ocean conditions and topography.

The mission is a partnership between the ESA and the European Commission.


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