Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission by NASA, ESA & SpaceX

Space Coast, FL – Today, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket booster, B1063.1. It had marked the Falcon 9’s 100th mission and 99th successful launch. The payload was Sentinel-6 Michael Freiliich which will begin it’s journey in orbit to provide critical measurements of sea-level change. The launch occurred on SLC-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA at 1217 EST (1717 UTC)

SpaceX Falcon 9 B1063.1 lifts off for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freiliich mission
SpaceX Falcon 9 B1063.1 lifts off for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freiliich mission | image: ESA

The Mission

This new satellite, will map up to 95% of Earth’s oceans every 10 days. It will assume the role as a reference mission to provide crucial data for sea-surface height measurements.

Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich
Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich | image: ESA ()

These measurements will be for monitoring our rising seas, climate prediction, coastal management and environmental protection.

Fairing release illustration
2nd Stage and Fairing release illustration of satellite Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich| image: ESA

Copernicus Sentinel-6 is a two-satellite mission, with the second satellite scheduled for launch in five years. It carries the European Poseidon-4 altimeter that, for the first time, introduces a synthetic aperture radar capability to the altimeter reference mission time series. 

New Missions

Six new missions are being prepared to address critical user needs within Copernicus. Over the ocean, these include the CRISTAL mission that will fly a dual-frequency altimeter with a focus on the cryosphere. The CIMR mission that carries a multi-frequency microwave radiometer to study the Arctic Ocean in a global context. Along with, ROSE-L which is an L-band synthetic aperture imaging mission called for enhanced measurements over sea ice. The other missions will Include next generation Copernicus Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3.

Revolution of altimeters on satellites | image: ESA
Revolution of altimeters on satellites | image: ESA

“Sea level continues to rise at an increasing rate.Extreme sea level events that are historically rare (once per century in the recent past) are projected to occur frequently
(at least once per year) at many locations by 2050 in all prediction forecast scenarios, especially in tropical regions.”

IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (2019)

While Sentinel-6 is one of the European Union’s family of Copernicus satellite missions, it is also realized thanks to cooperation between ESA, NASA, NOAA and EUMETSAT, with contributions from CNES.

As part of this international cooperation, Sentinel-6 is also equipped with an advanced microwave radiometer, which has been supplied by NASA. The two Sentinel-6 satellites are designed and built by a consortium of 58 companies under the leadership of Airbus Defense and Space Germany.

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