You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

'Spy-in-sky' project set to blast off

Press Association logoPress Association 6/03/2017 John von Radowitz

A major element of the most ambitious "spy-in-the-sky" Earth-watching program ever undertaken is ready to blast into space.

Sentinel 2B carries a sharp-eyed camera sensitive to 13 different shades of colour and will circle the Earth in a polar orbit at an altitude of 785 kilometres.

Launched from Europe's spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana, it will join an identical twin satellite placed in orbit in 2015.

Together Sentinel 2A and 2B will provide unprecedented views of the Earth, with an ability to distinguish objects just 10 metres apart and fields of vision 290km wide.

The images they beam back to Earth will provide a wealth of information about climate change, land use, vegetation and forest cover, pollution in lakes and coastal waters, and natural disasters caused by floods, volcanic eruptions and land slides.

The satellites also have a key security and humanitarian role, and will monitor borders to help prevent crime, track illegal immigrants and refugees, and aid emergency services.

A fleet of Sentinel satellites is at the heart of Copernicus, the biggest Earth observation program to date, being undertaken by the European Union.

Other missions are designed to obtain radar images, measure sea temperature, and test the composition of the atmosphere.

The two Sentinel 2 satellites, each weighing around a tonne, will make it possible to glimpse the same location on Earth every five days.

Sentinel 2B will be carried into orbit by a Vega rocket operated by the French-based satellite launch company Arianespace. The launch is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

More From Press Association

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon