ESA AEOLUS launch 2018
Launched on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 22 August 2018, the ESA’s Aeolus satellite measures winds around the globe, a key component to improve weather forecasting. Aeolus carries one of the most sophisticated instruments, Aladin: a new laser technology emitting pulses of UV light that are beamed down into the atmosphere to observe wind vertical profile.
European meteorological satellites – MetOp series – launch
The MetOp-A, B, C is a series of three identical polar-orbiting weather satellites to provide data for weather forecasting and climate monitoring.
MetOp-A on 2006.10.19
MetOp-B from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on-board a Soyuz launcher on 17 September 2012.
MetOp-C satellite from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) in Sinnamary, French Guiana, on 7 November 2018.
The ESA ENVISAT satellite mission was launched on 2002.03.01 aboard an Ariane 5 from the Guyana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. This 8 tonne mission includes many important Earth observation instruments, notably MERIS & SCIAMACHY.
Sentinel-3 A was launched on a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on 16 February 2016. It is the third satellite to be launched for Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring programme. Designed as a two-satellite constellation – Sentinel-3A and -3B – the Sentinel-3 mission carries a series of cutting-edge instruments for observing Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere. Over oceans, Sentinel-3 measures the temperature, colour and height of the sea surface as well as the thickness of sea ice. These measurements are used to monitor changes in sea level, marine pollution and biological productivity. Over land, this innovative mission monitors wildfires, maps the way land is used, provides indices of vegetation state and measure the height of rivers and lakes.
The second Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite, Sentinel-3B, lifted off on a Rockot from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 17:57 GMT (19:57 CEST) on 25 April 2018. Sentinel-3B joins its twin, Sentinel-3A, in orbit.
NASA Aqua launch 2002
The NASA Aqua satellite was launched from the top of the Delta II rocket from the US Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Aqua is a NASA Earth Science satellite mission named for the large amount of information that the mission has been collecting about the Earth’s water cycle: e.g. information on evaporation from the oceans, water vapour in the atmosphere, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice and land ice. Additional variables also being measured by Aqua include radiative energy fluxes, aerosols, vegetation cover on the land, phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter in the oceans, and air, land, and water temperatures. The Aqua mission is a part of the NASA-centered international Earth Observing System (EOS). Aqua was formerly named EOS PM, signifying its afternoon equatorial crossing time.
NASA Aura launch 2004
Launched on July 15, 2004, Aura is the third and last of the large NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites, a program dedicated to monitoring the complex interactions that affect the globe using NASA satellites and data systems. The design life is five years with an operational goal of six years. Aura’s Instruments are the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), the Dutch Finnish Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES), and the HIgh Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS). These instruments contain advanced technologies that have been developed for use on environmental satellites. Each instrument provides unique and complementary capabilities that will enable daily global observations of Earth’s atmospheric ozone layer, air quality, and key climate parameters. Aura is the caboose of the A-train constellation of satellites flying in formation. Aura originally was about 15 minutes behind the EOS Aqua satellite. In between Aqua and Aura have been the CloudSat, CALIPSO, and PARASOL satellites. All these satellites are in polar orbits with an equator crossing time near 1:30 local time.
Watch the Delta II rocket launching the CALIPSO – CloudSat spacecraft from Vandenberge, AFB, in 2006.
Watch the Taurus Rocket Launch Failure, transporting the first OCO instrument on 2009-02-24, from Vandenberg (California, USA). This failure was a real tragedy for the American scientific Earth Observation community as OCO was the first instrument dedicated to anthropogenic CO2 – Carbon dioxide observations at a very fine spatial resolution. The later NASA debriefing attributed the cause to the unsuccessful separation of the fairing during the ascent mode. The added mass of the fairing prevented the satellite from reaching its expected orbit. It subsequently re-entered in the atmosphere and crashed into the Indian Ocean near Antarctica. In this video, you can see the tension growing up in the NASA room with the presence of David Crisp, Principal Investigator (PI) of OCO. At the end, the NASA launch commentator declares the launch contingency and loss of the mission, and announces the implementation of the contingency plan.
Watch the launch of NASA’s OCO-2 Carbon Observatory on a Delta II Rocket from Vanderberg (California, USA) in 2014, 5 years after the tragic OCO launch failure.
Launch of the S5P mission with its state-of-the-art TROPOMI instrument, the first European Copernicus operational mission dedicated to the atmospheric composition observation. You can watch the S5P liftoff via the ESA YouTube Channel here