March 1, 2017

Next Vega mission to orbit Sentinel-2B satellite

Monday 6 March, Vega will lift off from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana carrying Sentinel-2B, the fifth satellite of the Copernicus constellation. The launch, conducted on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) to serve the European Union (EU) and its citizens, will be the third this year from the Guiana Space Centre and mark Vega’s ninth flight.

Sentinel-2B is the fifth satellite of the ambitious Copernicus Earth-observation programme. Sentinel-2 is a joint ESA-EU programme designed as a constellation of two identical satellites. Sentinel-2A was launched in June 2015 and is set to be joined in orbit by Sentinel-2B on Monday 6 March. Together, they will deliver high-resolution optical imagery to extend the data record built up by the SPOT and Landsat satellites. As it did previously for Sentinel-2A, CNES will be carrying out the delicate task of calibrating and fine-tuning Sentinel-2B’s instrument for ESA under its longstanding partnership with the agency.

Since being launched, Sentinel-2A has been providing global coverage of Earth’s land surfaces every 10 days. This repeat coverage cycle will now be reduced to five days operating in tandem with Sentinel-2B. Thanks to their Multi Spectral Instrument (MSI), the two satellites will combine 10-metre resolution with a wide imaging swath. The Earth- and ocean-observing Sentinel-2 constellation is designed chiefly for global monitoring of land surfaces and shorelines. Sentinel-2 data will serve applications monitoring vegetation, soils and habitats, in particular for agriculture.

With a launch mass of 1.1 tonnes and a mission lifetime of 7 years, Sentinel-2B was built by prime contractor Airbus Defence & Space on behalf of ESA to serve the European Union and its citizens.

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