Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is a joint US-European satellite.  The satellite was recently launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Key Points

  • The mission, also called the Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission, is designed to measure the height of the ocean, which will lead to the discovery of the changing Earth’s climate.
  • Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite has been named after NASA’s Director of Earth Science Division Michael Freilich who died in August 2020.
  • The spacecraft consists of two satellites, out of which one has been launched now and the other called Sentinel-6B, is to be launched in 2025.
  • It has been jointly developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), NASA, the European Union, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA, with contributions from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).
  • This launch also marks the first international involvement of the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme, Copernicus.

What task will the Satellite perform?

As per NASA, the satellite will provide measurements of global sea-level rise along with ensuring the continuity of sea-level observations into the fourth decade.

The satellite will send pulses to the surface of the Earth and will measure how long it takes the pulses to return. This will help the scientists in measuring the sea surface height. The satellite will also measure water vapour along this path and find its position using GPS and ground-based lasers.

The data collected by the satellite will support operational oceanography, by giving improved predictions of ocean currents, wind and wave conditions.

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