New satellite to keep a space eye on the oceans

Sentinel-3A, a new ocean monitoring satellite, will be launched into space next week on Tuesday 16 February from Plesetsk, Russia.

The satellite is the third in a series of six exciting new Sentinel missions developed to provide Earth observation data for the EU Copernicus programme.

Sentinel-3A will orbit the Earth, roughly from pole-to-pole, at an average height of 815 km.

Carrying three main instruments onboard, it will be able to measure global sea level, sea surface temperature and ocean colour.

It will also be able to monitor land temperature and colour and tiny particles (aerosols) in the atmosphere.

Global sea level change measured by satellite radar altimeters between 1993 and 2015. Note that the change is not the same everywhere, and that it the numbers are mostly positive, indicating sea level rise.

Global sea level change measured by satellite radar altimeters between 1993 and 2015. Note that the change is not the same everywhere, and that it the numbers are mostly positive, indicating sea level rise.

Mediterranean Sea Ocean Colour 2011 – Courtesy of CMEMS. Ocean colour is used to map the abundance of tiny marine plants (phytoplankton) the basis of the marine food chain. On the image, red indicates highest abundance of phytoplankton and blue indicates lowest abundance.

Mediterranean Sea Ocean Colour 2011 – Courtesy of CMEMS. Ocean colour is used to map the abundance of tiny marine plants (phytoplankton) the basis of the marine food chain. On the image, red indicates highest abundance of phytoplankton and blue indicates lowest abundance.

How will data from Sentinel-3A be used?

The marine data that Sentinel-3 collects will be used to help monitor the oceans and for weather forecasting. It will also help people to manage marine ecosystems e.g., fish stocks, and to monitor water quality and pollution.

On top of that, the data will be used to help map sea ice, help ships find the best routes and for climate monitoring.

On the land, Sentinel-3 data will be used to track how land is being used, to monitor vegetation, measure the height of rivers and lakes, and monitor wildfires.

Who will operate Sentinel-3A?

EUMETSAT will operate the satellite and deliver the marine data while ESA will deliver the land data.

Find out more:

Sentinel-3

Follow ESA’s Sentinel-3 blog 

Watch the launch live on ESA TV

How satellites monitor the oceans

 

About the Author

Mara Dambour

Mara Dambour

Learning Zone Writer