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‘Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite’

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    1st Dec, 2020

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, designed to monitor oceans, has been launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Context

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, designed to monitor oceans, has been launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

About

  • The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite has been named after Dr. Michael Freilich, who was the Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division from 2006-2019 and passed away in August this year.
  • The major objectives of the Satellite:
    • To ensure the continuity of sea-level observations into the fourth decade
    • To provide measurements of global sea-level rise.
  • The Sentinel is a joint endeavour between Europe and the US, and will continue the measurements that have been made by a succession of spacecraft, called the Jason-Topex/Poseidon series, going back to 1992.

Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission

  • The mission, called the Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission, is designed to measure the height of the ocean, which is a key component in understanding how the Earth’s climate is changing.
  • The spacecraft consists of two satellites, , called:
    • Sentinel-6
    • Sentinel-6B (to be launched in 2025)
  • It has been developed jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the EU, with contributions from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).

Key-highlights

  • This is a part of the next mission dedicated to measuring changes in the global sea level.
  • Other satellites that have been launched since 1992 to track changes in the oceans on a global scale include the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and OSTN/Jason-2, among others.

Significance of the mission

  • Data from satellites such as Sentinel-6 help scientists foresee the effects of the changing oceans on the climate.
  • Further, in order to measure and track changes in the oceanic heat budget, scientists need to know the ocean currents and heat storage of the oceans, which can be determined from the height of the sea surface.
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