Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Is Set for Launch in Weeks – 5 Things to Know

Sentinel 6 Michael Freilich Spacecraft Illustration

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In this illustration, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft – the world’s newest sea-level satellite – orbits Earth with its deployable photovoltaic panels extended. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Set for launch in November, the Earth-observing satellite will carefully keep track of water level and offer climatic information to support weather condition forecasting and environment designs.

On Nov. 10, the world’s newest Earth-observing satellite will introduce from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. As a historical U.S.-European collaboration, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will start a five-and-a-half-year prime objective to gather the most precise information yet on international water level and how our oceans are increasing in action to environment modification. The objective will likewise gather accurate information of climatic temperature level and humidity that will assist enhance weather report and environment designs.

The spacecraft is called after Dr. Michael Freilich, the previous director of NASA’s Earth Science Division and a determined supporter for advancing satellite measurements of the ocean. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich constructs on the heritage of the ESA (European Space Agency) Copernicus Sentinel-3 objective in addition to the heritage and tradition of the U.S.-European TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, 2, and 3 series of water level observation satellites. Launched in 2016, Jason-3 is presently supplying information started with the observations of TOPEX/Poseidon in 1992.

The information from these satellites has actually ended up being the gold requirement for water level research studies from area over the past 30 years. In 2025, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich’s twin, Sentinel-6B, is set up to introduce and advance these measurements for a minimum of another half years.

“This continuous record of observations is essential for tracking sea level rise and understanding the factors that contribute to it,” stated Karen St. Germain, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division. “With Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, we ensure those measurements advance both in number and in precision. This mission honors an exceptional scientist and leader, and it will continue Mike’s legacy of advances in ocean studies.”

So how will Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich even more our ocean and environment understanding? Here are 5 things you ought to understand:

1. The spacecraft will offer details that will assist scientists comprehend how environment modification is improving Earth’s shorelines — and how quickly this is taking place.

Earth’s oceans and environment are inextricably linked. The sea soaks up more than 90% of the heat caught by increasing greenhouse gases, which triggers seawater to broaden. This growth represent about one-third of modern-day water level increase, while meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets represent the rest.

The rate at which the oceans are increasing has actually sped up over the previous twenty years, and researchers anticipate it to accelerate more in the years to come. Sea level increase will alter shorelines and boost flooding from tides and storms. To much better comprehend how increasing seas will affect humankind, scientists require long environment records — something Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will assist offer.

“Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is a milestone for sea level measurements,” stated Project Scientist Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which handles NASA’s contributions to the objective. “It’s the first time we’ve been able to develop multiple satellites that span a complete decade, recognizing that climate change and rising seas are here to stay.”

2. The satellite will see things that previous water level objectives couldn’t.

In tracking international water level considering that 2001, the Jason series of satellites have actually had the ability to track big ocean functions like the Gulf Stream and weather condition phenomena like El Niño and La Niña that stretch over countless miles. However, determining smaller sized water level variations near shorelines, which can impact ship navigation and business fishing, has actually been beyond their abilities.

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will gather measurements at greater resolution. What’s more, it will consist of brand-new innovation in the Advanced Microwave Radiometer (AMR-C) instrument that, in addition to the objective’s Poseidon-4 radar altimeter, will make it possible for scientists to see these smaller sized, more complex ocean functions, particularly near the shorelines.

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Spacecraft Rear Illustration

This illustration reveals the back of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft in orbit above Earth with its deployable photovoltaic panels extended. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

3. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich builds on an extremely effective U.S.-European collaboration.

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is the very first NASA-ESA collaboration in an Earth science satellite objective, and it marks the very first global participation in Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme. It continues a decades-long custom of cooperation in between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and European partners, consisting of ESA, the intergovernmental European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).

These global partnerships make it possible for access to a bigger swimming pool of resources and clinical knowledge than would be readily available otherwise. Researchers have actually released countless clinical documents utilizing the water level information gathered by the series of U.S.-European satellite objectives that started with the 1992 launch of TOPEX/Poseidon.

4. By broadening the international climatic temperature level information record, the objective will assist scientists much better comprehend how Earth’s environment is altering.

Climate modification doesn’t simply impact Earth’s oceans and surface area; it affects all levels of the environment, from the troposphere to the stratosphere. A science instrument on Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich utilizes a method called radio occultation to determine the physical homes of Earth’s environment.

The Global Navigation Satellite System — Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) instrument tracks radio signals from navigation satellites that orbit Earth. When a satellite dips listed below (or increases above) the horizon from Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich’s point of view, its radio signal travels through the environment. As it does, the signal slows, its frequency modifications, and its course flexes. Called refraction, this result can be utilized by researchers to determine minute modifications in climatic density, temperature level, and wetness material.

When scientists include this details to existing information from comparable instruments presently in area, they’ll have the ability to much better comprehend how Earth’s environment is altering in time.

“Like the long-term measurements of sea level, we also need long-term measurements of our changing atmosphere to better understand the full impacts of climate change,” stated Chi Ao, the GNSS-RO instrument researcher at JPL. “Radio occultation is a wonderfully precise and accurate way to do that.”

5. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will assist to enhance weather report by supplying meteorologists details on climatic temperature level and humidity.

The satellite’s radar altimeter will gather measurements of sea surface area conditions, consisting of considerable wave heights, and information gathered by the GNSS-RO instrument will match existing observations of the environment. These combined measurements will offer meteorologists even more insights to enhance weather report. Moreover, details on the temperature level and humidity of the environment, in addition to the temperature level of the upper layer of the ocean, will assist to enhance designs that track the development and development of cyclones.

More About the Mission

The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS satellite set is being collectively established by ESA, EUMETSAT, NASA, and NOAA, with financing assistance from the European Commission and technical assistance from CNES.

NASA JPL established 3 science instruments for each Sentinel-6 satellite: the AMR-C, the GNSS-RO, and the Laser Retroreflector Array. NASA is likewise contributing launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA science instruments, the science information processors for 2 of these instruments, and assistance for the global Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.