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IET Satcom 2018

Sentinel-3B in orbit

(25 April 2018 - Thales Alenia Space) The Sentinel-3B satellite, built by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency (ESA), was successfully orbited today by a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

A cornerstone mission in the European Earth observation program Copernicus, Sentinel-3B features a series of state-of-the-art instruments.

  • Two optical instruments: OLCI (Ocean and Land Color Instrument) and SLSTR (Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer).
  • Two RF (radio-frequency) instruments: SRAL (Synthetic-aperture Radar ALtimeter), and MWR (Microwave Radiometer), which will provide measurements to determine the topography of oceans, sea ice and bodies of water on land.

sentinel 1

(courtesy: ESA/Pierre Carril)

sentinel 2

(courtesy: Thales Alenia Space/Imag[IN])

Sentinel-3B will systematically cover all of the Earth’s land surfaces and oceans, gathering data that will help improve oceanographic and atmospheric forecasts. It will also improve our understanding of the oceans’ “health”, as well as fishery and water resources, agriculture, forests, biodiversity, public health and food security. At the same time, it will allow us to accurately monitor changes in sea heights and the shrinking polar ice.

Sentinel-3B’s orbit at 815 kilometers allows it to scan the entire surface of the Earth, using both radar and optical sensors, while regularly revisiting the same area. Because of this regular scanning of the surface, Sentinel-3B offers a plethora of applications: tracking marine currents and therefore movements in pollution, the movement of plankton and the marine biomass that consumes it, changes in ocean levels, monitoring polar ice, forests, farming zones, etc.

A number of satellites in the Copernicus program are already in orbit: Sentinel 1A, launched in 2014, 2A, launched in 2015, 1B and 3A, launched in 2016, 2B and 5P, launched in 2017. They are already transmitting a substantial stream of raw data, used in conjunction with data from other Earth observation satellites. The successful launch of Sentinel-3B means that the three Sentinel missions are now complete, marking a major turning point for Thales Alenia Space.

Thales Alenia Space won the original contract from the European Space Agency back in December 2009, with Telespazio directing ground segment operations for the entire Sentinel-3 mission. Users can receive significant environmental data just three hours after the information has been picked up by the satellites.

About Thales Alenia Space

Combining 40 years of experience and a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, Thales Alenia Space architects design and deliver high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments, institutions and companies rely on Thales Alenia Space to design, operate and deliver satellite-based systems that help them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere, help observe our planet, help optimize the use of our planet's – and our solar system’s – resources. Thales Alenia Space believes in space as humankind’s new horizon, which will enable to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of about 2.6 billion euros in 2017 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.