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Introduction

Copyright: ESA/ATG Medialab

Swarm is ESA's first constellation mission for Earth Observation (EO). This mission is operated by ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), in Germany, via the primary ground station in Kiruna, Sweden. This mission consists of the three identical Swarm satellites (A, B, and C), which were launched on 22 November 2013 into a near-polar orbit.

The final constellation of the mission was achieved on 17 April 2014 (more detailed information). Swarm A and C form the lower pair of satellites flying side-by-side (1.4° separation in longitude) at an altitude of about 470 km (inclination angle is equal to 87.35°), whereas Swarm B is cruising at higher orbit of about 520 km (inclination angle is equal to 87.75°).

All Swarm satellites are equipped with a set of six identical instruments (more detailed information): Absolute Scalar Magnetometer (ASM), Vector Field Magnetometer (VFM), Star Tracker (STR), Electric Field Instrument (EFI), GPS Receiver (GPSR), and Accelerometer (ACC).


Swarm trio becomes a quartet

22 February 2018

With the aim of making the best possible use of existing satellites, ESA and Canada have made a deal that turns Swarm into a four-satellite mission to shed even more light on space weather and features such as the aurora borealis.
Swarm trio becomes a quartet
One of the main stumbling blocks has been getting its lasers to work in a vacuum, but recent tests on the satellite show that the vacuum or temperature of space won't get in the way of Aeolus measuring Earth's winds.


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Latest EO Weekly Newsletter
23 February 2018 - Week 08/2018


Sentinel-1 provides support in Taiwan's earthquake

22 February 2018

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The Sentinel-1 satellites of Europe's Copernicus Programme are being used to quantify the surface deformation of the disaster area around the Hualien earthquake.

On 06 February 2018, an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 on the Richter magnitude scale hit Taiwan. The epicentre was on the coastline near Hualien, which was the most severely affected area, with a maximum shaking intensity of 7.

The earthquake formed the largest of a sequence of events that affected the area over a period of days, with 11 foreshocks of magnitude 4.6 and greater, starting on 03 February. The 06 February earthquake was a result of oblique-slip faulting.

The Centre for Space and Remote Sensing Research (CSRSR) in Taiwan accessed Sentinel-1 data after the earthquake struck. Researchers there have been downloading Sentinel-1A data from data hubs since 2014, for multidisciplinary research and application. The additional acquisitions obtained largely inspired local researchers, such as Dr Jiun-Yee Yen, and colleagues Chih-Heng Lu and Chun-Ching Wang at the Eastern Taiwan Earthquake Center (ETEC), who processed the Sentinel-1A and -B data, producing deformation maps.

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Sentinel-1 provides support in Taiwan's earthquake

22 February 2018

The Sentinel-1 satellites of Europe's Copernicus Programme are being used to quantify the surface deformation of the disaster area around the Hualien earthquake.
Hualien earthquake damage

Carbon Cycle

23 February 2018

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As part of the way Earth works as a system, carbon is continuously passed between the ocean, the land and the atmosphere. This involves a range of different processes, some of which can be observed by satellites. Human activity is disturbing these natural processes and causing a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Satellites and ESA's Climate Change Initiative are helping to improve our understanding of the carbon cycle and its role in climate change.

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Copenhagen - Denmark

Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark is featured in this Sentinel comparison. In this image comparison, the Copenhagen is shown using the Sentinel-1 and -2 satellites to emphasise the difference between the radar and optical imagery the Sentinels provide.

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Bering Strait

23 February 2018

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The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over the Bering Strait, which connects the Pacific and Arctic Oceans between Russia and the US state of Alaska.

The image was created by combining three radar scans of 11 December 2017, 23 December 2017 and 04 January 2018. Each image has been assigned a different colour: blue, red and green, respectively. This creates a colourful composite that highlights how the sea ice changed over the four weeks.

Since the Bering Strait lies slightly south of the polar circle, days are short during the winter. Thanks to its radar, Sentinel-1 can ‘see' through clouds and in the dark, making it especially valuable for monitoring parts of the planet that endure relatively dark winter months. Offering this ‘radar vision', images from Sentinel-1 can be used for charting icebergs and for generating maps of sea ice for year-round navigation.

Bering Strait

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