Sentinel-3: an Earth observation heavy satellite

Sentinel-3 is an Earth observation heavy satellite series developed by the European Space Agency as part of the Copernicus Programme. It currently (as of 2020) consists of 2 satellites: Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B. After initial commissioning, each satellite was handed over to EUMETSAT for the routine operations phase of the mission. Two recurrent satellites— Sentinel-3C and Sentinel-3D— will follow in approximately 2024 and 2028 respectively to ensure continuity of the Sentinel-3 mission.

The each Sentinel-3 satellite is designed to operate for seven years in a sun-synchronous low earth orbit and uses multiple sensors to measure topography, temperature, marine ecosystems, water quality, pollution, and other features for ocean forecasting and environmental and monitoring.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,200, as of 2018, and an annual budget of about €4.9 billion, as of 2023.

ESA’s space flight programme includes human spaceflight (mainly through participation in the International Space Station program); the launch and operation of uncrewed exploration missions to other planets (such as Mars) and the Moon; Earth observation, science and telecommunication; designing launch vehicles; and maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou (French Guiana), France. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle. The agency is also working with NASA to manufacture the Orion spacecraft service module that flies on the Space Launch System.

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