Free Earth Observation Data… A Quick Overview of the Copernicus Sentinel Program

Source: ESA

Copernicus Sentinel Program

The Copernicus Sentinel program is a European initiative led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission (EC) with the goal of providing data and information about the Earth’s environment for a wide range of applications. The program consists of a constellation of Earth-observation satellites that capture data across a range of wavelengths and frequencies, allowing for the creation of high-resolution imagery, maps, and other types of data products.

The Copernicus Sentinel program is designed to provide continuous monitoring of the Earth’s environment, including land, oceans, and atmosphere. The data collected by the Sentinel satellites is used for a variety of applications, including climate monitoring, disaster management, land-use mapping, and oceanography.

The data is freely available to researchers, scientists, businesses and other users around the world. Information on who and what they are using the data for is available in this annual report.

Sentinel Satellites

Each Sentinel mission is based on a constellation of satellites to fulfil revisit and coverage requirements, providing robust datasets for Copernicus services. These missions carry a range of technologies, such as radar and multi-spectral imaging instruments for land, ocean and atmospheric monitoring:

Sentinel-1 is a polar-orbiting, all-weather, day-and-night radar imaging mission for land and ocean services. Sentinel-1A was launched on 3 April 2014 and Sentinel-1B on 25 April 2016. The mission ended for Sentinel-1B in 2022 and plans are to launch Sentinel-1C as soon as possible.

Sentinel-2 is a polar-orbiting, multispectral high-resolution imaging mission for land monitoring to provide, for example, imagery of vegetation, soil and water cover, inland waterways and coastal areas. Sentinel-2 can also deliver information for emergency services. Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015 and Sentinel-2B followed on 7 March 2017.

Sentinel-3 is a multi-instrument mission to measure sea-surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, ocean colour and land colour with high-end accuracy and reliability. The mission supports ocean forecasting systems, as well as environmental and climate monitoring. Sentinel-3A was launched on 16 February 2016 and Sentinel-3B joined its twin in orbit on 25 April 2018.

Sentinel-5 Precursor – also known as Sentinel-5P – is the forerunner of Sentinel-5 to provide timely data on a multitude of trace gases and aerosols affecting air quality and climate. Sentinel-5P was launched on 13 October 2017.

Sentinel-4 is a payload devoted to atmospheric monitoring that will be embarked upon a Meteosat Third Generation-Sounder (MTG-S) satellite in geostationary orbit.

Sentinel-5 is a payload that will monitor the atmosphere from polar orbit aboard a MetOp Second Generation satellite.

Sentinel-6 carries a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height, primarily for operational oceanography and for climate studies. The first satellite was launched into orbit on 21 November 2020.

Source: ESA