Airbus has finished the integration of the Copernicus Sentinel-2C satellite – the third of its kind – which will now be shipped to Munich to undergo extensive environmental tests to prove its readiness for space. The test campaign will last until March 2022.
The data gathered by Sentinel-2 satellites are used for monitoring land use and changes, soil sealing, land management, agriculture, forestry, natural disasters and to assist humanitarian aid missions. Environmental observation in coastal areas likewise forms part of these activities, as does glacier, ice and snow monitoring.
Airbus explained in a company statement that by offering "colour vision" for the Copernicus programme, Sentinel-2C – like its precursor satellites Sentinel-2A and -2B – will deliver optical images from the visible to short-wave infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. From an altitude of 786 kilometres, the 1.1 ton “C” satellite will reportedly enable continuation of imaging in 13 spectral bands with a resolution of 10, 20 or 60 metres and a uniquely large swath width of 290 kilometres.
The Sentinel-2-mission is based on a constellation of two identical satellites, Sentinel-2A (launched 2015) and Sentinel-2B (launched 2017), flying in the same orbit but 180 degrees apart for "optimal coverage and revisit time". The satellites orbit the Earth every 100 minutes covering all Earth’s land surfaces, large islands, inland and coastal waters every five days.
The Sentinel-2 satellites are currently sensing systematically all land and water areas. According to Airbus, last year, the Sentinel-2 mission remained the top European mission in terms of peer-reviewed scientific publications (1200 during 2020) and data volume distributed to users.
The Sentinel-2 mission is a result of close collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission, industry, service providers and data users. Its development has involved around 60 companies.
Copernicus, Europe’s environmental monitoring programme, is led by the European Commission in partnership with the ESA. The Copernicus Sentinels supply remote sensing data of the Earth, delivering key operational services related to environment and security.