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VIDEO: Sentinel-3A ready to go!

The countdown has started for the Sentinel-3A environmental monitoring satellite, which will be launched shortly from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.

One of the cornerstones in Europe’s vast Copernicus program, the Sentinel-3A satellite carries four state-of-the-art payloads, optimally laid out in a restricted space. Sentinel-3A’s assigned mission includes oceanography, continental hydrology and the monitoring of vegetation on land.

A “jack of all trades” in operational oceanography, Sentinel-3A is mainly designed for surface topography, which entails precisely measuring the height of seas, wave heights and wind speeds over the oceans. It will also measure the temperature and color of the water in oceans, lakes and rivers.

All the data collected by Sentinel-3A will help improve forecasts concerning both oceans and the atmosphere. This type of information will also improve our understanding of the condition and health of our oceans, and help us better manage fisheries, agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, water resources, public health, food production and security, as well as precisely monitor changes in sea levels and the shrinking arctic sea ice.

The Sentinel-3 family (comprising 4 satellites) are built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor. Sentinel-3A will be orbited on February 16 by a Rockot launcher in Russia, while Sentinel-3B is scheduled for launch in 2017 by Arianespace using the Vega light launcher from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. 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.

Watch the video: © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes