Sentinel-2a Satellite Launched by Europe to Impart ‘Colour’ to Copernicus project
Monday saw the launch of the Sentinel-2a satellite by Europe, in a bid to provide a high-resolution optical imaging capability to its Copernicus Earth observation project. The satellite, which took off from French Guiana at 9.52pm EDT, would relay coloured images of the Earth.
The Copernicus project is a joint project of the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA calls this the most ambitious Earth observation program, wherein a funding of around EUR 8.4 billion until 2020, has been brought in by the two.
The Sentinel-2a satellite has been developed by a consortium of about 60 companies, led by Airbus Defence and Space. It was launched aboard a Vega rocket and is to be positioned 786 kms above the Earth. The probe would help collect useful information, including environmental data intended to help policymakers to craft legislation and react to various emergencies.
The satellite is carrying high-tech imaging equipment that can help capture a wider array of colours, which would help map every nook and cranny of the Earth in colour. The images relayed by the probe would help forecast crop harvests, respond to humanitarian crises, monitor the destruction of forests and estimate water needs for efficient crop production.
Volker Liebig, director of ESA's Earth Observation program, said, “We have not just all the colours that are visible, but also infrared, which is very good for monitoring vegetation”.
In fact, what is worth noting is the fact that the satellite would take a 180-mile tour of the Earth every 10-days, ensuring that the images that it provides are up-to-date.
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