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Sentinel-3A in the cleanroom

Satellite constellation

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ESA / Applications / Observing the Earth / Copernicus / Sentinel-3

The Sentinel-3 mission is based on a constellation of two satellites, both orbiting Earth at an altitude of 814.5 km. This configuration optimises coverage and global revisit.

Depending on the instrument, Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B will provide global coverage every two days. The majority of the data will be processed systematically and available for users within 3–48 hours after sensing.

The development of the satellites has called on the expertise of many companies led by Thales Alenia Space in France. The design of the satellite and instruments also builds on heritage missions such as ESA’s ERS and Envisat and CryoSat as well as France’s SPOT Vegetation and the series of Jason altimetry satellites.

The mission is result of close collaboration between ESA, the European Commission, Eumetsat, industry, service providers and data users.

Each satellite is designed for a life of at least seven years and has enough fuel to provide up to 12 years of continuous operations.

ESA and Eumetsat will share the responsibility for the smooth running of the mission. After the successful completion of the commissioning phase, encompassing the first five months in orbit testing the functionality of the satellite, ESA hands over the operations of the satellites to Eumetsat.

ESA then continues to monitor the health of the satellites, including platform and instruments.  ESA is responsible for the operations of the Sentinel-3 ground segment for land products as well as the continuous improvement of the data products through research and development activities. Eumetsat is responsible for providing the marine products and operating the satellite.

Together with the rest of the Sentinel fleet, the Sentinel-3 satellites will make a unique contribution to the paradigm shift in the quality and quantity of Earth observation measurements over our planet in the coming decades.

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