Sentinel-2B successfully launched

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Sentinel-2B lift-off (Photo: ESA)

We are honoured to have been part of the ESA-developed Sentinel-2B satellite launch earlier this week. Being present at the launch gave us insights at the incredible science, engineering, applications and businesses behind Copernicus, Europe’s most ambitious Earth observation programme ever, and an opportunity to meet the experts at European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) who are making it happen.

Group photo by ESA

The social #Sentinel2Go @Social4Space event at the ESOC that coincided with the launch, took us behind the scenes of the operations centre. The monitoring (and running) of not only functioning satellites and other spacecrafts, but also space trash, is flabbergasting, and ESOC is doing it 24/7. The control rooms are like something you'd see in the supervillain movies, and made some of us space nerds want to hide inside.

During the launch event, we also had a great opportunity to present the Sentinel Hub and Sentinel Playground to social media participants, invitees, journalists, Earth observation and IT experts and the new generation of Copernicus data users.

"Sentinel-2 data are very beautiful, with lots of stunning images around there. But most of the people haven't tried to explore the data themselves, because it's really hard. The remote sensing is difficult and a large volume of data it's making it complicated. We try to solve this problem by building Sentinel Hub, which makes it possible to either just explore the data, everything that was acquired, or to make advanced analytics on top of it..." said Grega Milcinski, CEO at Sinergise.

Grega continued with explaining how data from Sentinel-2 is also very practical - you can find Amazon rainforest being cut, observe how bridges are being built, notice illegal mining pits and other things. It is helping to improve agricultural practices, monitor the world’s forests, detect pollution in lakes and coastal waters, and contribute to disaster mapping. Sentinel Hub services make the access to the Sentinel-2 data as easy as pie and as quick as a wink.

The full event webcast is available here.

Grega Milcinski, CEO at Sinergise, presenting Sentinel Hub and Sentinel Playground at the launch event.

The launch

The satellite was carried into the targeted Sun-synchronous orbit on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 01:49 GMT on 7 March (02:49 CET; 22:49 local time, 6 March). Approximately one hour after launch the control was established by controllers at ESA’s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, allowing activation of Sentinel’s systems to begin.

Main control room at ESOC (Photo: ESA)

The Sentinel-2B is expected to begin operations in three to four months, and double the coverage of high-resolution optical imaging in the Sentinel-2 mission. Both identical satellites, Sentinel-2A (launched in June 2015), and Sentinel-2B are placed in the same orbit, flying 180° apart. With both being operational, it will take 5 days to cover all land surfaces, large islands, and inland and coastal waters between latitudes 84°S and 84°N.

Sentinel-2B lift-off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (Photo: ESA)

Interesting facts about the Sentinel-2 mission

Sentinel-2 is delivering high-resolution optical images for land monitoring, emergency response and security services. The satellite carries a multispectral imager with a swath of 290 km. The imager provides a versatile set of 13 spectral bands spanning from the visible and near infrared to the shortwave infrared, featuring four spectral bands at 10 m, six bands at 20 m and three bands at 60 m spatial resolution.

Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (Acquired on March 6, 2017 with Sentinel Playground)

Read more about the launch and benefits of Sentinel-2 mission in European Comission's press release.

Go to Sentinel Playground and play, or you can get the data directly in your GIS application in a matter of seconds.