The media had a sneak peek at the first Sentinel satellite today ahead of its launch next spring.
ESA is developing the Earth-observing Sentinel missions to meet the needs of Europe’s Copernicus programme.
The first in the series, Sentinel-1, will provide all-weather, day-or-night radar images for emergency responses, marine and land monitoring, civil security and climate studies, among other applications.
It will ensure the continuity of C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data, building on ESA’s heritage C-band SAR systems on ERS-1, ERS-2 and Envisat. Sentinel-1 will provide global coverage with a focus on Europe, Canada and the main shipping routes, with data delivered within a few hours of acquisition – a big improvement over existing SAR systems.
The mission will fly a pair of satellites, the first of which is planned to be launched next spring from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Its sister Sentinel-1B will follow in 2015.
On Friday, Thales Alenia Space hosted a media event on the mission in Rome, Italy. ESA’s Sentinel-1 Project Manager, Ramón Torres, gave an overview of the satellite, designed by ESA and realised by European industry.
Thales Alenia Space Italy is prime contractor, with Astrium Germany responsible for the C-SAR payload incorporating the central radar electronics developed by Astrium UK.
Following briefings by ESA, Thales Alenia Space’s President and CEO Elisio Prette, and European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, media representatives visited Sentinel-1A in the cleanroom.
Earlier this year, the satellite passed a series of thermal tests in vacuum that simulated operations in space. From Rome, Sentinel-1 will travel on 25 November to Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, for the next set of tests that will simulate the launch environment as demonstrate its radio-frequency compatibility.
A final test conducted with ESA’s European Satellite Operations Centre in Darmstadt early in 2014 will validate the whole system, before the satellite is shipped to the launch site.