Sentinel-3B was successfully launched

Kairi Janson | 29.04.2018

On April 25 2018, Copernicus programme satellite Sentinel-3B was successfully sent into orbit on a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. See the video of Sentinel-3B being launched into orbit here.

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Screenshot of the liftoff video of Sentinel-3B launcher Rockot / ESA

Ocean Colour Radiometry Team Leader at the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) Ewa Kwiatkowska stated that the overall mission status is nominal. „The solar array was successfully deployed during the first pass,“ added Kwiatkowska. The initial coarse orbit determinations show orbit injection within the specifications for the launcher. Spacecraft attitude is nominal and sun pointing is in steady state, added Kwiatkowska.

Most complex mission of the Copernicus programme

In orbit, Sentinel-3B will join its twin, Sentinel-3A, which was launched in February 2016. Using two identical satellites can provide the best coverage and data delivery for the Copernicus programme: the largest environmental monitoring programme in the world.

Sentinel-3 is the most complex mission of the Copernicus programme. It is primarily an ocean mission. In this video, Kwiatkowska talks about ocean monitoring and its importance. However, the mission also systematically monitors land, ice and atmosphere.

The mission data enables to understand the global changes in Earth’s climate and provide critical information about oceans and for weather forecasts.

Sentinel and Tartu Observatory

Tartu Observatory is connected to the Sentinel-3B mission. The researchers help with an endeavor planned within the mission. The plan is to change the position of the channels of the sensor and thereby find out whether remote sensing data can be used to determine phytoplankton species. Researchers of the observatory will be doing comparison measurements in Võrtsjärv and Peipsi at the same time.

Actually, the Group of Remote Sensing of Waterbodies have other connections to the Sentinel programme as well. They have been working with the ENVISAT/MERIS data for a long time. „This is the first sensor made for the remote sensing of optically challenging waters,“ explained Research Fellow of the group Krista Alikas. MERIS was the prototype of OLCI which is now used on board of Sentinel-3. „Those sensors guarantee a long and stable line of remote sensing data that could be used for enviromental remote sensing, identifying changes and analysing them,“ said Alikas.

Besides that, Tartu Observatory is part of the Sentinel-3 data validation team. The tasks of the team are validating OLCI sensor data and giving feedback to improve the algorithms.

Copernicus is directed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). Sentinel-3B was the seventh Sentinel satellite launched for Copernicus.