Lift off for Vega and Proba-V
13 May 2013
ESA's newest launcher, Vega, has completed a successful second flight from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Vega lit up the darkness as it lifted off at 02:06 GMT on 7 May on a complex mission to deliver three satellites – including ESA’s Proba-V - to low Earth orbit.
All three of the rocket’s solid-fuelled stages performed perfectly. Proba-V was released into a circular orbit at an altitude of 820 km, over the western coast of Australia, some 55 minutes after lift off. Control of the satellite was taken over by ESA’s centre in Redu, Belgium, which will oversee a full health check and test routine before it begins normal operations.
Proba-V weighed about 140 kg at launch. It is the third in ESA’s series of Proba spacecraft which are flown to test new space technologies. The main task of Proba-V is to map global vegetation.
Vegetation data show scientists different land cover types and plant species, including crops. Their health status can be revealed this way, and water bodies and vegetation burn scars can be detected.
These data will be used to assess the impact of climate on vegetation, manage surface water resources, monitor agriculture, and estimate food security across the planet, especially in the least developed areas. Despite being only a little larger than a washing machine, it will provide sharp views of Earth’s plant life every two days.