Europe on 3 April 2014 launched a satellite named Sentinel-1A, designed to monitor Earth for climate change and environmental damage and help disaster relief operations. Sentinal-1 is the first in a constellation of hi-tech satellites and was lifted off aboard Soyuz rocket from Kourou, French Guiana of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The 2.2-tonne satellite will scan the Earth with cloud-penetrating radar and is the first of half a dozen orbital monitors that will be built and launched under the 5.19-billion US dollar (3.786-billion-euro) Copernicus project, a joint undertaking of ESA and the European Union (EU).
Sentinel-1A after taking off separated itself from the rocket’s upper stage and further will be followed by a partner, Sentinel-1B, which will be launched till end of the year 2015.
Sentinel-1 is a two satellite constellation with the prime objectives of Land and Ocean monitoring. The goal of the mission is to provide C-Band SAR data continuity following the retirement of ERS-2 and the end of the Envisat mission. To accomplish the goal the satellite has carried a C-SAR sensor that will offer medium and high resolution imaging in all weather conditions. The C-SAR is capable of obtaining night imagery and detecting small movement on the ground, which makes it useful for land and sea monitoring.
Sentinel-1 is the first of the six missions in the framework of the Copernicus initiative and is composed of a constellation two polar-orbiting satellites, namely Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B. These two satellites will share the same orbital plane, while operating day and night performing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging.
Sentinel-1 services include applications like
• Monitoring sea ice zones and the Arctic environment
• Assimilation of sea ice observations in the forecasting systems
• Surveillance of marine environment, including oil-spill monitoring and ship detection for maritime security
• Monitoring land surface motion risks
• Mapping of land surfaces: forest, water and soil, sustainable agriculture
• Mapping in support of humanitarian aid in crisis situations
Copernicus is formerly known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) and is the European Union's Earth observation and monitoring programme, a user driven programme, building on the existing national and European capacities and establishing new infrastructure and services.