[QODLink]
Europe

Europe launches environment satellite

Sentinel 1-A will carry cloud-penetrating radar that monitors climate change and can spot environmental damage.

Last updated: 04 Apr 2014 06:29
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Sentinel-1A is the first of a series of six satellites whose aim is to map climate change [GETTY/ESA]

Europe has launched the first in a constellation of hi-tech satellites designed to monitor Earth for climate change and environmental damage and help disaster relief operations.

Sentinel-1A, a satellite designed to scan the Earth with cloud-penetrating radar, lifted off on Thursday evening aboard a Soyuz rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

The satellite is the first of half a dozen orbital monitors that will be built and launched under the $5bn Copernicus project, a joint undertaking of the ESA and the European Union.

It will be followed by a partner, Sentinel-1B, due to be launched towards the end of next year, according to the AFP news agency.

Operating 180 degrees apart, at an altitude of about 700km, between them the pair will be able to take a radar picture of anywhere on Earth within six days.

Radar scanning has a range of uses, from spotting icebergs and oil slicks to detecting rogue logging and ground subsidence.

The data will be widely accessible to the public and is likely to have uses that go beyond the environment, such as in construction and transport.

Environmental disasters

By mapping areas stricken by flood or earthquake, the monitors will also be able to help emergency teams identify the worst-hit areas and locate roads, railway lines and bridges that are still passable, the ESA says.

The others in the series are Sentinel-2, which will deliver high-resolution optical images of forests and land use; Sentinel-3, providing ocean and land data, and Sentinels 4 and 5, which will monitor Earth's atmospheric composition the basic component in fine-tuning understanding about greenhouse gases.

The goldmine of data expected to be thrown up by the satellite constellation will be more accessible to the public than any previous Earth-monitoring programme.

The potential applications go beyond stewardship of the environment. They could help shipping firms, farmers and construction companies, too.

"Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date," ESA said.

"It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security."

Copernicus replaces Envisat, one of the most successful environmental satellites in space history, whose mission ended in 2012.

It was named last year in honour of the 16th-century Polish astronomer who determined that the Earth orbited the Sun, and not the other way round, as convention had it at the time.

403

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.