Europe’s first Copernicus Program satellite is set to launch April 3. The European Space Agency (ESA) is demonstrating how its advanced radar will map ice, monitor subsidence and more.
Marking a new era in Earth observation focusing on operational applications, Sentinel-1A is set to deliver timely imagery for numerous Copernicus services. Carrying an advanced radar, it will scan Earth’s surface no matter what the weather and regardless of whether it is day or night.
In crisis situations, it will be used for rapid response to disasters such as floods and earthquakes. Its radar will routinely monitor shipping zones, map sea ice and provide information on winds and waves for marine traffic, track changes in the way land is being used and monitor subsidence. It will also track how glaciers move, as shown in the accompanying image of Petermann Glacier in northwest Greenland.
To prepare users for the images Sentinel-1A will deliver, Canada’s RADARSAT-2 satellite recently was programmed by MacDonald, Dettweiler & Associates (MDA) to scan Earth’s surface using the same novel “interferometric” wide-swath mode as Sentinel-1. Consequently, a suite of images was acquired over various sites. As the most realistic Sentinel-1-like images to date, they show the performance and suitability of the new mission for classifying different types of sea ice, detecting ships and monitoring oil platforms.
Image courtesy of ESA/MDA.