The Airbus-built European ocean satellite "Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich" has successfully begun its “Seeing-the-Seas” mission.
On 21 November 2020 the satellite lifted-off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA. Approximately one and a half hours after the launch, the first signals from the spacecraft were received by a ground station in Alaska.
The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will carry out high-precision measurements of ocean surface topography. The satellite will measure its distance to the ocean surface with an accuracy of a few centimetres and use this data to map it, repeating the cycle every 10 days, with the mission lasting up to seven years.
Along with measuring global sea level rise and ocean circulation, the satellite will record vertical profiles of atmospheric temperature and humidity.
“The mission findings will enable governments and institutions to establish effective protection for coastal regions. The data will be invaluable not only for disaster relief organisations, but also for authorities involved in urban planning, securing buildings or commissioning dykes. The data will also help scientists to further improve weather forecasts and hurricane predictions” said Philippe Pham, Head of Earth Observation, Navigation and Science at Airbus.
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