Only four days are being launched, the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2A satellite has bgun sending its first images back to Earth. The 1.1 tonne satellite packs a high-resolution optical payload designed to gather some of the best color global imagery ever delivered from space of land and vegetation for Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring programme.
The satellite’s first image acquisition started in Sweden and made a 290 km wide sweep through central Europe and the Mediterranean, ending in Algeria.
Although northern and central Europe were mostly obscured by clouds, Italy’s sunny weather enabled the ground teams to get their first peak of the multispectral instrument’s capabilities over the northwestern part of the country and the French Riviera.
The images show, with a ground resolution of 10 m per pixel, individual buildings in Milan, agricultural plots along the Po River, and ports along the southern French coast.
Philippe Brunet, Director for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence at the European Commission, said:
“This new satellite will be a game changer in Earth observation for Europe and for the European Copernicus programme.”
During the three-month satellite commissioning campaign, the two main objectives will be to assess and characterise the spacecraft performance. Concurrently, calibration and validation activities will be conducted for the multispectral imager (MSI) payload involving CNES and ESA.
The imager’s 13 spectral bands, from the visible and the near infrared to the shortwave infrared at different spatial resolutions, take land monitoring to an never before seen level. Sentinel-2 is the first optical Earth observation mission of its kind to include three bands in the ‘red edge’, which provide key information on the state of vegetation.
Sentinel-2A and -2B are planned to conduct a seven-year mission, that could be extended by five years, and monitor Earth from an altitude of about 790 km.
Top Image: Acquired on 27 June 2015 at 10:25 UTC (12:25 CEST), just four days after launch, this close-up of France’s southern coast from Nice airport (lower left) to Menton (upper right) is a subset from the first image from the Sentinel-2A satellite. This false colour image was processed including the instrument’s high-resolution infrared spectral channel. Credit: ESA