ESA’s Sentinel-2A satellite returns its first color images of Earth

Just four days after entering orbit, the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2A satellite delivered its first images of Earth.

Acquired on June 27, 2015, this first image of Sentinel-2A covers the Po Valley, framed by the Alps to the north and the coastal mountains of France and Italy to the south. Scratches observed over water are expected artifacts due to the arrangement of the detectors in the Sentinel-2A MSI instrument. Image credit: Copernicus / ESA data.

The Sentinel-2A satellite took off from a Vega rocket from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on June 23, 2015.

The 1140 kg satellite carries a high-resolution optical payload that will bring together some of the best global images ever provided from space of our land and vegetation for the European Copernicus environmental monitoring program. This information will be used primarily for agricultural and forestry practices, and will help manage food security, monitor pollution of lakes and coastal waters, and contribute to faster mapping of disasters.

“This new satellite will be a game-changer in Earth observation for Europe and for the European Copernicus program,” said Philippe Brunet, Director of Space Policy, Copernicus and Defense at the European Commission.

Sentinel-2 will enable us to provide data for the program’s land monitoring services and will be the basis for a wide range of applications ranging from agriculture to forestry, environmental monitoring to urban planning, ”added Volker Liebig , Director of ESA Earth Observation Programs.

The Sentinel-2A Multispectral Imager (MSI) is being calibrated during the commissioning phase, but the quality of the first images is already exceeding expectations. MSI’s 13 spectral bands, from visible and near infrared to shortwave infrared at different spatial resolutions, take land monitoring to an unprecedented level.

Sentinel-2A is the second satellite in the European Copernicus program, after the Sentinel-1A radar satellite launched last year.

Designed as a two-satellite mission, Sentinel-2 will provide optical imagery on a 5-day revisit cycle once its twin, Sentinel-2B, launches in the second half of 2016.

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