A few minutes after 5 p.m. today, a rocket launched from French Guiana in South America, carrying a satellite into orbit that will advance an ongoing mission to monitor how Earth’s natural features are changing due to the planet’s gradual warming.
That satellite, Sentinel-1B, follows the launch of Sentinel-1A back in 2014, and is part of the European Space Agency’s Copernicus program. The Sentinel 1 satellites provide “all-weather, day and night radar imagery for land and ocean services,” according the ESA, and are the first in Sentinel family of environmental satellites to head into space.
The satellites form a partnership and are able to keep eyes on the entire globe: “By orbiting 180 degrees apart, global coverage and data delivery are optimized,” explains the ESA.
“The mission provides radar imagery for a multitude of services and applications to improve everyday life and understand our changing planet.”
The satellite was carried by the Russian-made Soyuz rocket and the launch was managed by French commercial launch company Arianespace, which has been putting rockets into space since 1980.
Because it’s always a fun thing to watch, here’s the Soyuz ditching its boosters and then tumbling back down toward Earth.
Up next for the Sentinel program? The Sentinel-2 satellites, of course, which “will provide high-resolution optical imagery for land services.” The ESA offers this timeline: “Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015 and Sentinel-2B will follow in the second half of 2016.” Here’s a full rundown.
Watch the full launch here:
Here’s a video of just the lift-off: