The joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency was launched on November 21 at 12:17 pm from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The first level of the Falcon 9 returned to Earth for a vertical landing.
Once in orbit, the pickup truck-sized satellite will monitor world sea levels for the next five and a half years.
For 30 years, satellites have helped monitor Earth’s sea level. This satellite is the latest in that series, but it’s changing how it will collect more accurate data at global sea level and respond to climate change.
Sentinel-6 has a high resolution for collecting measurements, which means it can track large features such as the Gulf Stream and small features such as beach variations.
The satellite will collect data used to improve weather forecast, hurricane monitoring and climate models such as humidity and atmospheric temperature. Scientists can also use the data to predict areas where coastlines could change.
It is a dual-purpose and dual satellite Sentinel-6B, which will be launched in 2025. The dual satellites carry the tradition of constantly monitoring sea level rise in the fourth decade.
“This mission is a global partnership needed to study our planet because it belongs to all of us,” Thomas Surbuchen, co-executive of NASA’s Directorate of Science Mission, told a news conference Friday.
“To understand what climate change means to mankind, science must take a long view. The goal is to follow 30 years of uninterrupted measurements of spacecraft orbiting the Earth. In that perspective we will have another decade of critical measurements.” We do this together as an international community, and it strengthens us. . “
The legacy of studying our planet
The name was renamed earlier this year to the late Michael Freelich, a marine scientist from 2006 to 2019 and director of NASA’s Earth Science Division. Freelich died in August. The satellite was named in his memory to commemorate Freeleach’s contribution to Earth science and satellite oceanography and to improve space-based ocean measurements.
During a press conference on Friday, Surbuchen reminded everyone of Freeleach’s words and perspective on the importance of studying the Earth from space.
“Humanity, not a company, not a nation, not a continent, but … humanity has been monitoring world sea levels from space for more than 28 years with precise precision.”
Sentinel-6 follows in the footsteps of Jason-3, a satellite launched in 2016. It currently provides observations of the landscape of the world’s oceans.
Allows mission teams to ensure that the satellites receive continuous data from each other before the previous mission is completed.
After launch, the Sentinel-6 will fly 30 seconds behind Jason-3. The team will also measure data from two satellites next year to complete the Jason-3 mission.
This long tradition of sea level tracking satellites was launched in 2001 and 1992 with the original Jason series of missions and its predecessor Topex / Poseidon, respectively.
It is part of the European Union’s Earth Monitoring Program Copernicus. The project maintains accurate data for more than 90% of the sea level above sea level on Earth. The data collected by these satellites contributed to climate studies, ocean weather and oceanography.
Eyes in the sea
Long-term uninterrupted monitoring of global sea level is important to understand how our planet responds to global warming and climate change. Climate experts say that as global sea levels rise, this is a clear indicator of global warming.
Understanding global sea levels will help scientists track ocean currents as they transfer heat across the planet. The effect of this ripple will affect our weather.
Coasts are also changing in response to sea level rise driven by climate change. As the planet warms, the oceans absorb the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases, causing some expansion behind the sea level rise. The melting of glaciers and glaciers has undergone much of the change.
The sea level rise rate has increased over the last 25 years and will continue to do so in the future. This is an important factor to keep in mind because coastal flooding caused by storms can alter populated areas.
Freelich realized that understanding and resolving the rising sea level of the earth would require the cooperation of people around the world.
The company formed the Sea Level Change Science Team in 2014 to bring together people from NASA and other organizations to study glaciers, icebergs, oceans and land motion to get a better picture of the impacts of rising sea levels.
“We are united by this great goal,” said NASA Project Manager Natya Vinogradova Schiffer, who oversees the team. “Sea level is affected by these different factors that do not obscure a discipline – so we need to bring in experts to access it from all angles.”
But this satellite will also contribute to a greater understanding of how the Earth’s climate as a whole is changing, from its global ocean to the top of its atmosphere.