An important milestone has been reached for ESA’s Sentinel-3 mission. The satellite platform has been delivered to the Prime Contractor in France where the instruments will be installed and tested along with the numerous components that make up this sophisticated new mission to monitor Earth.
Once complete, Sentinel-3 will host an array of state-of-the-art instruments that mainly focus on measuring different aspects of ocean waters, such as the temperature and colour of the surface waters along with the height of the sea surface.
The new technology will not only lead to a better understanding of the marine environment, but also that of the land, atmosphere and cryosphere.
The mission, which will eventually operate as a pair of satellites, is dedicated to providing data for services that will be offered through Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, recently renamed 'Copernicus'.
The first Sentinel-3 satellite is due to be launched in 2014.
The satellite platform, apart from the solar arrays, was integrated and tested at Thales Alenia Space in Rome, Italy, before being shipped to Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France.
In the second half of this year it will have its array of instruments installed before going through a stringent testing programme in preparation for launch.
Building on heritage pioneered by ERS and Envisat and demonstrating Europe’s technological excellence, Sentinel-3’s instrument package takes ocean monitoring to a new level.
The advanced capability of the Sentinel-3 Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter will deliver 300 m along-track resolution sea-surface height data with high precision, improving Copernicus marine forecasts and environmental monitoring.
With 21 bands at 300 m resolution, the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument will provide measurements to biogeochemists and ecosystem modellers to support Copernicus water quality and land-monitoring applications.
The Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer will provide much-needed continuity to Envisat and ERS. It will offer highly accurate sea-surface and land temperature measurements for ocean, climate and weather services all over the world.
In an operationally robust and sustained near-realtime system, Sentinel-3 will provide policymakers and public authorities with the knowledge required to take decisions with confidence, prepare environmental legislation and policies, monitor their implementation and assess their socio-economic impacts and benefits.