Next week, on 3 April, a new era will begin in remote-sensing-aided disaster response. The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that the Sentinel-1A radar satellite will be launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana.
Each Sentinel mission is based on a constellation of two satellites to provide robust datasets for Copernicus Services, the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security program, previously known as GMES.
The initiative is headed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. The first of the initial two-satellite mission, Sentinel-1A will be joined in orbit next year by Sentinel-1B.
Sentinel-1 carries a 12 m-long advanced synthetic aperture radar (SAR), working in C-band. Radar data can be used for monitoring land deformation. The “radar interferometry'” remote-sensing technique combines two or more radar images over the same area to detect changes occurring between acquisitions. Interferometry allows for the monitoring of even slight ground movement – down to a few mm – across wide areas.
As well as being a valuable resource for urban planners, this type of information is essential for monitoring shifts from earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic uplift.
|Sentinel-1A being prepared for launch at|
Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French
Guiana. Photo: ESA-B v/d Elst
Sentinel-2 will deliver high-resolution optical images for land services and Sentinel-3 will provide data for services relevant to the ocean and land.
Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 will provide data for atmospheric composition monitoring from geostationary and polar orbits, respectively.
SPIE Proceedings have reported extensively on instrumentation developed for the Sentinel missions, including 14 new papers published in November 2013 from conferences on Earth Observing Systems; Remote Sensing for Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Hydrology; Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites; and SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) Image Analysis, Modeling, and Techniques.