European ocean monitoring satellite launches into orbit

Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Poised for Liftoff

Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Poised for Liftoff

NASA says the satellite, called the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California early Saturday. It was carried to the cosmos by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon's first stage flew back to the launch site and landed for reuse.

An Earth-observation satellite developed by European and USA space agencies set to lift off Saturday will measure sea level rise, tracking changes threatening to disrupt tens of millions of lives within a generation.

In this Thursday, May 30, 2013 file photo Michael Freilich, director of NASA's earth science division, center, signs a ceremonial document turning over operational control of the Landsat 8 satellite to the U.S. Geological Survey at the USGS EROS Center north of Sioux Falls.

The work of a handful of multinational organizations went into Saturday's mission, including the European Commission, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, U.S.'s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the French space agency CNES. The second is set to launch in 2025.

The spacecraft itself, weighing 1,192 kilograms at launch, was built by Airbus Defence and Space in Germany.

They are created to last for five-and-a-half years, but could provide data for far longer.

Copernicus Sentinel-6 Almost Time for Liftoff

Sentinel-6 perceptions will be remembered for, for example, ocean wave gauges (convenient for transportation items over the sea) and hurricane forecasts, to empty seaside populaces rapidly if the need emerges. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the agency's contribution to the mission.

Other instruments on board will measure how radio signals pass through the atmosphere, providing data on atmospheric temperature and humidity that can help improve global weather forecasts. That instrument is similar to those on the six COSMIC-2 satellites launched in June 2019. Farther south in Los Angeles County, residents may catch a glimpse of the rocket's smoky trail as it powers the satellite into orbit, then reverses course and returns to Vandenberg for recovery and use in future missions. This mission is to follow 30 years of continuous measurements by spacecraft that orbit Earth. It still now provides observations of global ocean terrain. Together, the pair is tasked with extending a almost 30-year-long record of global sea surface height measurements.

"It's a critical observation for a number of reasons, but its power is really unleashed when we combine our altimetry observations of the sea surface height measurements with the observations we get from the other satellites in the NASA fleet and the global fleet", she continued. Sea levels do not rise at the same rate around the world, making accurate mapping and modeling even more important for understanding the problem.

Accelerating sea level rise is arguably the climate change impact that will affect the largest number of people over the next three decades. Sea levels were rising at the rate of about two millimeters per year in the 1990s, said Josh Willis, project scientist for the mission at JPL, but are now increasing at four to five millimeters per year.

Together with our worldwide and interagency partners, we're monitoring the causes of sea level rise with high accuracy and precision.

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