With four days to liftoff, the next Sentinel satellite for Copernicus is now on the launch pad at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia.
The rocket will be fuelled the day before the launch – set for 16 February at 17:57 GMT (18:57 CET).
The Sentinel-3A satellite has been at the cosmodrome since early December going through a series of tests and being readied for the big day. After being sealed from view in the rocket fairing earlier this week, it was rolled out to the pad today.
Bruno Berruti, ESA’s Sentinel-3A project manager, said, “After years of hard work developing the mission, we all felt very emotional watching our satellite being encapsulated in the fairing knowing that that was the last time we’ll see it.
“But this is what we’ve been working for – to get this latest Copernicus satellite into orbit and working for the benefit of European citizens, and in fact, users worldwide.
“Although we still have the launch to get though, which is always a nail-biting time, we are very proud to see everything now almost ready on the launch pad – and this is all thanks collaboration between ESA, the EC, Eumetsat, France’s CNES space agency, industry, service providers and data users.”
Once operational, Sentinel-3A will systematically measure Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere with a suite of cutting-edge instruments.
This workhorse mission will deliver data within three hours of sensing, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. While these data will be fed primarily into the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service, all the Copernicus services will benefit to produce knowledge and information products in near-real time for a wide range of applications.
Sentinel-3A is essential for applications for ocean and coastal monitoring, numerical weather and ocean prediction, sea-level change and sea-surface topography monitoring, ocean primary production estimation and land-cover change mapping.