ESA is developing a series of next-generation Earth observation missions, on behalf of the joint ESA/European Commission initiative GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).
The goal of the Sentinel program is to replace the current older Earth observation missions which have reached retirement, such as the ERS mission, or are currently nearing the end of their operational life span. This will ensure a continuity of data so that there are no gaps in ongoing studies.
Each mission will focus on a different aspect of Earth observation; Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Land monitoring, and the data will be of use in many applications.
For mission planning information, see the Copernicus Mission pages.
With the objectives of Land and Ocean monitoring, Sentinel-1 will be composed of two polar-orbiting satellites operating day and night, and will perform Radar imaging, enabling them to acquire imagery regardless of the weather. The first Sentinel-1 satellite was launched in April 2014.
The objective of Sentinel-2 is land monitoring, and the mission will be composed of two polar-orbiting satellites providing high-resolution optical imagery. Vegetation, soil and coastal areas are among the monitoring objectives. The first Sentinel-2 satellite was launched in June 2015.
The primary objective of Sentinel-3 is marine observation, and it will study sea-surface topography, sea and land surface temperature, ocean and land colour. Composed of three satellites, the mission's primary instrument is a radar altimeter, but the polar-orbiting satellites will carry multiple instruments, including optical imagers.
Sentinel-4 is dedicated to air quality monitoring. The Sentinel-4 UVN instrument is a spectrometer carried aboard Meteosat Third Generation satellites, operated by EUMETSAT. The mission aims to provide continuous monitoring of the composition of the Earth's atmosphere at high temporal and spatial resolution and the data will be used to support monitoring and forecasting over Europe.
Sentinel-5 is dedicated to air quality monitoring. The Sentinel-5 UVNS instrument is a spectrometer carried aboard the MetOp Second Generation satellites. The mission aims to provide continuous monitoring of the composition of the Earth's atmosphere. It provides wide-swath, global coverage data to monitor air quality around the world.
A precursor satellite mission, Sentinel-5P aims to fill in the data gap and provide data continuity between the retirement of the Envisat satellite and NASA's Aura mission and the launch of Sentinel-5. The main objective of the Sentinel-5P mission is to perform atmospheric measurements, with high spatio-temporal resolution, relating to air quality, climate forcing, ozone and UV radiation. The satellite was successfully launched on 13 October 2017 from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia.
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