Sentinel-6 Returning Most Precise Data Ever on Sea Level

Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission spacecraft (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Sea-level rise is one of the most immediate consequences of climate change, as highlighted recently through urgent pleas from leaders of island nations at the COP26 summit. Global measures of sea-level rise are imperative to underpinning global policy and for strategies to protect coastlines and low-lying lands. Measuring tiny differences in the height of the sea surface from space is no easy task – but that’s exactly what the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is doing. And, after a year of exhaustive testing, this new mission is now delivering the world’s most accurate data on sea-level rise. 

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UK and France Reach New Agreement on Climate Change Mission

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, and Laurence Monnoyer-Smith, Director of Sustainable Development of CNES signing the implementation arrangement for MicroCarb at COP26. (Credit: UK Space Agency)

GLASGOW (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency has provided new funding for a joint British and French mission, called MicroCarb, dedicated to monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.

The UK Space Agency has provided new funding for a joint British and French MicroCarb mission dedicated to monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, and Laurence Monnoyer-Smith, Director of Sustainable Development of the French space agency, CNES, signed an implementation arrangement for the MicroCarb mission at COP26 – the United Nations climate change conference being hosted by the UK in Glasgow.

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ESA Moves Forward with Destination Earth

GOES-16 full disk GeoColor image from October 16, 2019. GeoColor is an RGB that approximates what the human eye would see from space. (Credit: NOAA/CIRA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Earth observation provides a wealth of information to benefit our daily lives. As the demand for satellite data grows to address the challenges of climate change and a growing population, ESA, under the leadership of the European Commission, along with its key European partners, are developing high precision digital models of Earth to monitor and simulate both natural and human activity, to enable more sustainable development and support European environmental policies.

Today, at the ESA Council, Member States approved a ‘Contribution Agreement’, which paves the way for cooperation with the European Commission on the Destination Earth initiative, in the context of the Digital Agenda of the European Union.

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Rocket Lab Lands Multi-Launch Deal to Deploy Entire IoT Satellite Constellation for Kinéis

Kineis satellite constellation (Credit: CLS)

The multi-launch contract will see Rocket Lab deploy 25 Internet-of-Things (IoT) satellites across five dedicated missions on the Electron launch vehicle

Long Beach, California. September 08, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc (“Rocket Lab” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: RKLB), a leading launch provider and space systems company, today announced it has been awarded a contract to deploy an entire satellite constellation across five dedicated Electron missions for Kinéis, a global Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity provider. 

Scheduled for launch beginning in the second quarter of 2023, the constellation will enable Kinéis, a company backed by private and public investors including the French government’s space agency CNES (Centre National d’Études Spatiales) and CLS (Collecte Localisation Satellites) an international space-based solutions provider, to improve its global IoT connectivity. The multi-launch contract with Kinéis, which is subject to standard termination and launch rescheduling provisions, follows a similar bulk buy of launches earlier this year to deploy nine satellites across five dedicated Electron missions as part of a constellation for BlackSky, a provider of real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring services.

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The Good, the Bad and the Brexit: UK’s Participation in European Space Programs Curtailed by EU Departure

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although the United Kingdom’s (UK) “Brexit” departure from the European Union (EU) on Jan. 1 will not affect its membership status in the European Space Agency (ESA), the nation’s participation in a number of European space programs is either ending or being curtailed.

On Christmas Eve, the UK and EU announced an agreement in principle that will govern trade, security and political relations after Brexit. Under the agreement, the UK’s participation in the:

  • Galileo satellite navigation and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) program will end;
  • Copernicus Earth observation satellite program will continue, contingent upon a further agreement to be worked out next year; and
  • EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EUSST) program will end, although the Britain will continue to receive data as a non-EU country.
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U.S.-European Sea Level Satellite Gears Up for Launch

This animation shows the radar pulse from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite’s altimeter bouncing off the sea surface in order to measure the height of the ocean. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will soon be heading into orbit to monitor the height of the ocean for nearly the entire globe.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Preparations are ramping up for the Nov. 10 launch of the world’s latest sea level satellite. Since arriving in a giant cargo plane at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last month, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has been undergoing final checks, including visual inspections, to make sure it’s fit to head into orbit.

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5 Things to Know About Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

Set for launch in November, the Earth-observing satellite will closely monitor sea level and provide atmospheric data to support weather forecasting and climate models.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On Nov. 10, the world’s latest Earth-observing satellite will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. As a historic U.S.-European partnership, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will begin a five-and-a-half-year prime mission to collect the most accurate data yet on global sea level and how our oceans are rising in response to climate change. The mission will also collect precise data of atmospheric temperature and humidity that will help improve weather forecasts and climate models.

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EUMETSAT Shifts Weather Satellites to Ariane 6

DARMSTADT, Germany — Meeting on 30 June in virtual configuration, the Council of Europe’s operational satellite agency for weather and climate, EUMETSAT, approved the transition plan from the second to the third generation of Meteosat geostationary satellites for 2022-2026.

As part of this plan, EUMETSAT will move Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) spacecraft Meteosat-9 over the Indian Ocean in 2022 to replace the ageing Meteosat-8 and continue MSG observations of that region until at least 2025. Meteosat observations of the Indian Ocean started in 1998 with a first-generation satellite, Meteosat-5.

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Six New Missions for the European Copernicus Earth Observation Program

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)
  • On 1 July 2020, the European Space Agency awarded contracts for the development and construction of six further Copernicus satellites.
  • Contracts with a value of more than 800 million euro are being awarded to space companies in Germany, a high percentage of which are SMEs.
  • The new satellites are intended to help find answers to the global challenges posed by climate change, population growth and environmental problems.

BONN, Germany (DLR PR) — Sentinel satellites are at the heart of Copernicus, Europe’s largest Earth observation programme. Sentinels are already reliably and continuously providing large amounts of data on the state of the climate, vegetation and oceans. Now, six more ‘Earth Guardians’, the High Priority Candidate Missions (HPCM), are being added.

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New International Ocean Satellite Completes Testing

Mission team members perform acoustic tests of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in a chamber outfitted with giant speakers that blast the spacecraft with sound. This is to ensure that the high decibels associated with liftoff won’t damage the spacecraft. (Credit: Airbus)

A team of engineers in the U.S. and Europe subjected the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft to a battery of trials to ready it for liftoff later this year.


Once the state-of-the-art Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launches in November, it will collect the most accurate data yet on sea level – a key indicator of how Earth’s warming climate is affecting the oceans, weather and coastlines. But first, engineers need to ensure that the spacecraft can survive the rigors of launch and of operating in the harsh environment of space. That’s where meticulous testing comes in.

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