EUMETSAT is gearing up for the launch of Sentinel-3B at the end of April.
Thursday, 05 April 2018
The spacecraft is part of a series of Sentinel satellites under the umbrella of the EU’s Copernicus programme, which takes a continuous “health check” of our planet.
Sentinel-3A was launched in February 2016 and has been delivering observations for two years. The successful launch of Sentinel-3B will represent the full deployment of the Sentinel-3 mission.
EUMETSAT operates the Sentinel-3 satellites, in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), and processes marine data and products for delivery to users. ESA processes and disseminates the satellite’s land observations.
EUMETSAT Competence Area Manager for Marine Applications Francois Montagner said not only are the organisation’s scientists and the whole ground segment ready for the launch of Sentinel-3B, the users and models which ingest the marine data are too.
“User preparedness is key,” Montagner said.
“Once Sentinel-3B is launched, the end user will have twice as much data, with hopefully twice as much value.
“But one has to see this constellation of Sentinel-3A and -3B as a single source of measurements, not two different satellites.
“This is why, during the commissioning phase, where the satellites fly in a tandem configuration, we will intercalibrate the instruments to understand more accurately their response to the same signal.
“Later, during regular operations, we will keep the satellites apart, to ensure that there is minimum redundancy between the two datasets. There should be no surprises – apart from what we will learn from the additional information.
”Montagner said the EUMETSAT marine data stream is powering a fast-expanding flow of innovative products.
“Oceans are crucial for life on Earth,” he said, “Oceans are full of life.“
"In a way, EUMETSAT is now entering into the realm of life sciences where we never were before."
“We are not ‘only’ Europe’s meteorological satellite agency, we have become so much more.”
EUMETSAT collects and disseminates data from three instruments on board Sentinel-3, the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) and the Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter (SRAL).
All observations made by Sentinel-3 interact with each other, providing essential inputs into a detailed view of the global oceans.
For example, measurements of surface temperature by the SLSTR and seal level observations made by the SRAL complement each other in terms of observations of the heat stored in a column of water.
Ocean colour observations by the OLCI account for life, in the form of phytoplankton, and water quality, not just at the surface but a few metres below.
At the same time, the plankton drifts along currents, showing as structures such as eddies, plumes and streams in ocean colour and temperature images, for which one of the key engines is sea level, revealed by altimetry.