Introducing Sentinel-1

The Sentinels, a new fleet of ESA satellites, are delivering a wealth of data and imagery that are central to Europe’s Copernicus programme. 

By offering a set of key information services for a broad range of applications, this global monitoring programme makes a step change in the way we manage our environment, understand and tackle the effects of climate change, and safeguard everyday lives.

The first in the series, Sentinel-1, carries an advanced radar instrument to provide an all-weather, day-and-night supply of imagery of Earth’s surface.

The C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) builds on ESA’s and Canada’s heritage SAR systems on ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat and Radarsat.

As a constellation of two satellites orbiting 180° apart, the mission images the entire Earth every six days. As well as transmitting data to a number of ground stations around the world for rapid dissemination, Sentinel-1 also carries a laser to transmit data to the geostationary European Data Relay System for continual data delivery.

Sentinel-1B lifts off

The mission benefits numerous services. For example, services that relate to the monitoring of Arctic sea-ice extent, routine sea-ice mapping, surveillance of the marine environment, including oil-spill monitoring and ship detection for maritime security, monitoring land-surface for motion risks, mapping for forest, water and soil management and mapping to support humanitarian aid and crisis situations.

The design of Sentinel-1 with its focus on reliability, operational stability, global coverage and quick data delivery is expected to enable the development of new applications and meet the evolving needs of Copernicus.

Sentinel-1 is the result of close collaboration between the ESA, the European Commission, industry, service providers and data users. Designed and built by a consortium of around 60 companies led by Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space, it is an outstanding example of Europe’s technological excellence.

Sentinel-1A was launched on 3 April 2014 and Sentinel-1B on 25 April 2016. Both were taken into orbit on a Soyuz rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

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