SpaceX has successfully launched Sentinel-6, a new satellite that has radar equipment on board to take sea level measurements. The project is a collaboration between the European space agency ESA and NASA.
Saturday evening Dutch time, a Falcon 9 rocket took off from the Vandenberg launch facility in California, with the Sentinel-6 on board. Shortly after launch and detachment from the missile reported the ESA that the satellite flew independently in orbit, making the operation seem a success. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket then landed on Earth unscathed.
Scientists from ESA, NASA and the American meteorological institute NOAA want to monitor the sea level with the Sentinel-6. Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, and with the radar equipment on board the satellite, this can be tracked to within a centimeter.
Dutch scientists from TU Delft contribute to the project by taking height measurements. They determine the height of the satellite above the earth using GPS and Galileo measurements; this information is needed in order for the satellite to accurately measure the sea level.
The intention is that Sentinel-6 will take measurements until at least 2030, in order to monitor the rise in the sea level. For Europe, the data will become available within the Copernicus program, in which KNMI, among others, participates. The KNMI is interested in the data from the Sentinel-6 because the sea level rise can have a major influence on Dutch water policy.