Sentinel-1A has just been launched by the European Union in hopes of being able to map the entire Earth through the use of an array of satellites. Sentinel-1A is the first of said satellites put into orbit as part of the EU’s Copernicus Earth Observation Program. Online sources report that this multi-billion dollar venture is first for the European Union.
The group of satellites will be monitored utilizing radar in order to create what will hopefully be “the most comprehensive map of the Earth” to date. Sentinel-1A was launched from French Guiana aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Sinnamary launch pad. The Sentinel-1A is reportedly in orbit approximately 699 kilometers above the planet as this goes to press.
Upon launch of the last of the satellite array there will be a total of 6 Sentinel’s in orbit recording as much as eight terabytes of data daily, recording the surface of the Earth via radar. The Sentinel satellites are said to be “up and running by 2019.” The program is predicted to cost approximately 7.5 billion Euro dollars. The EU hopes, however, to find the funds to keep the project going “in perpetuity” in order to keep the data current.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: “Once all the Sentinel satellites have been launched the Copernicus program will be the most efficient and fullest Earth-observation program in the world. This investment will allow Europe to establish itself at the forefront of research and innovation in a cutting-edge sector – namely, space. Many skilled jobs have been created and many more are yet to come.”
The ESA (The European Space Agency) is presently handling the daily activities of the Sentinel-1A. Over the coming three months the Sentinel-1A will be tested before the completed system goes online. The Sentinel-1a contains state of the art equipment including a laser-based data-relay system that has yet to be tested.
If the test runs as planned, the Sentinel-1A will serve as “the backbone” of the complete Copernicus satellite group. The Sentinel-1A’s laser-formatted data-relay system is capable of handling huge amounts of data and relaying it back to mission control in Darmstadt, Germany faster than any conventional system. The information collected by the Sentinel-1a and its partner satellites will be utilized for other purposes as well including charting the globe’s condition and climate, helping during natural disasters and providing information for policy decisions.
(Image courtesy of ESA)