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ESA’s Sentinel-2A Satellite Returns Its First Color Images of Earth

Just four days after being lofted into orbit, European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2A satellite delivered its first images of Earth.

The Sentinel-2A satellite lifted off on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on June 23, 2015.

The 1,140-kg satellite carries a high-resolution optical payload that will gather some of the best global imagery ever delivered from space of our land and vegetation for Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring program. This information will mainly be used for agricultural and forestry practices, as well as will help manage food security, monitor pollution in lakes and coastal waters and contribute to more rapid disaster mapping.

“This new satellite will be a game changer in Earth observation for Europe and for the European Copernicus program,” said Philippe Brunet, Director for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defense at the European Commission.

“Sentinel-2 will enable us to provide data for the program’s land monitoring services and will be the base for a wide spectrum of applications reaching from agriculture to forestry, environmental monitoring to urban planning,” added Volker Liebig, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programs.

The Multispectral Imager (MSI) on Sentinel-2A is being calibrated during the commissioning phase, but the quality of the first images already exceeds expectations. MSI’s 13 spectral bands, from the visible and the near infrared to the shortwave infrared at different spatial resolutions, take land monitoring to an unprecedented level.

Sentinel-2A is the second satellite for Europe’s Copernicus program, following the Sentinel-1A radar satellite launched last year.

Designed as a two-satellite mission, Sentinel-2 will provide optical imagery on a 5-day revisit cycle once its twin, Sentinel-2B, is launched in the second half of 2016.