Envisat in testing

Envisat fast facts

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ESA / Applications / Observing the Earth


  • Envisat is the size of an articulated truck
  • 10m x 4m x 4m with solar panel and ASAR stowed
  • 25m x 7m x 10m with solar panel and ASAR deployed


  • 8200 kg at launch
  • includes 300 kg hydrazine fuel for orbit control thrusters


  • solar array generates 6.6 kW of electricity after five years in orbit


  • orbits Earth every 100 minutes at altitude 800 km
  • global coverage every 3 days (for most instrument)
  • exact repeat coverage every 35 days


  • 5 years design life
  • both ESA's previous Earth Observation Satellites ERS-1 and 2 significantly exceeded their design lifetimes
Artist's impression of Envisat in orbit
Artist's impression of Envisat in orbit


  • ten instruments observing Earth
  • in wavelengths from 0.2 micrometer to 10 cm

Data gathering

  • Envisat will collect 1 Petabyte (1015 bytes) of data over its lifetime
  • enough to fill the hard disk drivers of a million desktop PCs


  • 2 x 100 Mbit/s links via European Data Relay Satellite
  • 2 x 100 Mbit/s direct downlinks to ground receiving stations
  • each link 2000 times faster than a standard computer modem

Data storage

  • 160 Gbits total data storage on board
  • enough for 1.6 million square kilometres of SAR imagery plus one complete orbit of data from all the other sensors
Inspecting the ASAR
Inspecting the ASAR


  • satellite built by consortium of 50 companies led by Astrium
  • ground segment built by consortium of 20 companies led by Alcatel Space Industries


  • Arianne-5 launch vehicle from Europe's Spaceport Guyana Space Centre


  • 2 billion Euro over 15 years
  • works out at 7 Euro per citizen per ESA member nations or about 1 cup of coffee each a year

Participating states

  • Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom