Sentinel 6 MF Main Image

Joint European-US ocean-monitoring satellite undergoes pre-launch tests


Sentinel 6 MF Main Image
Sentinel 6 MF Main Image

Testing is underway on the spacecraft that will provide highly accurate measurements of the amount and rate of global sea level rise until the 2030s through a joint European-US mission.

Last Updated

02 November 2020

Published on

15 November 2019

EUMETSAT Director-General Alain Ratier, together with representatives from the European Commission, ESA and NASA today visited the Industrieanlagen Betriebsgesellschaft mbH (IABG) clean room in Ottobrun to inspect the first of two satellites supporting the collaborative Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission.

IABG will perform an extensive series of tests on the spacecraft and its instruments over six months, to ensure it will survive the launch and orbit environment.

The spacecraft will take over from Jason-3 as the high precision altimetry mission as of 2020, and continue a mission started with Topex/Poseidon in 1992 and continued with Jason-2.

Ratier said the collaborative Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission represents the next phase of a more than 30-year-long cooperative effort between Europe and the US and would increase understanding of the role of the Earth’s oceans in climate change.

“From its specific orbit, the collaborative Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission will deliver measurements of ocean surface topography and mean sea level of the highest precision,” Ratier said.

“Their unique quality will drive up the performances of Copernicus ocean monitoring and forecast services and predictions of heat waves and other weather phenomena influenced by the ocean.

“The measurements will  cross-calibrate less accurate satellite altimetry missions to produce a multi-orbit data set directly usable by ocean prediction models that sample the variability of the ocean at different scales, from El Nino to mid-latitude eddies. 

“Last but not least, the mission will continue to map the evolutions of mean sea level in our changing climate, providing essential information for adaptation policies in coastal areas and small island states. This is an important contribution to the Paris Agreement.”

The partners involved in the collaborative Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission are the European Commission, EUMETSAT, the European Space Agency, NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with the support of the French Space Agency (CNES).
EUMETSAT will operate the Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 spacecraft, and process and disseminate their mission data, from its headquarters in Darmstadt.

* In January 2020, the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS A satellite was renamed the Sentinel-6 “Michael Freilich” in honour of the former Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division.


The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 30 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom).

EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat -9, -10 and -11 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-8 over the Indian Ocean.

EUMETSAT operates a constellation of three Metop polar-orbiting satellites as part of the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS) shared with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

EUMETSAT is also a partner in the cooperative sea level monitoring Jason missions (Jason-2, Jason-3 and Sentinel-6) involving Europe and the United States.

The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and climate change.

The European Union has entrusted EUMETSAT with exploiting the four Sentinel missions of Copernicus dedicated to the monitoring of atmosphere, ocean and climate on its behalf. EUMETSAT carries out these tasks in cooperation with ESA and already exploits the Sentinel-3 marine mission.

EUMETSAT has established cooperation with operators of Earth Observation satellites from Europe and from China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.


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