European Union launches Earth-observing Sentinel-3B satellite aboard the Rockot launcher

Recently, on Wednesday, the European Union successfully managed to launch its new, highly-advanced Sentinel Earth observation satellite into space. The earth observing satellite is called Sentinel-3B and it flew to space atop a Russian Rockot launcher. The Russian Rockot booster blasted off carrying the Sentinel-3B satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwest Russia, at 1757:51 GMT (1:57:51 p.m. EDT) and successfully deployed the satellite into the orbit.

The main aim of the Sentinel-3B satellite is to monitor the Earth’s ocean. Along with that it will map the vegetation growth on the earth surface and will measure the thinning ice sheets. The Sentinel-3B was the seventh rocket that was launched by the European Union for its ambitious Copernicus mission. The European Union informed that through its Copernicus mission, it is aiming to create a fleet of Earth-observing satellites in space so that a large amount of data about Earth can be provided to the people on Earth. The Earth data can be easily accessed by the policymakers, scientists, business and also the general public and use them according to their needs.

The Copernicus programme is a partnership between European Space Agency (ESA), EUMETSAT and the European Commission to carry out Earth science and environmental research from orbit. The programme is funded by ESA and with the deployment of Sentinel-B rocket in the orbit the first-generation satellite constellation of Copernicus has been completed. The original name of the Copernicus mission is Global Monitoring for Environment and Safety (GMES) and is managed by European Commission.

The Sentinel-3B satellite has joined its twin, the Sentinel-3A, which was launched in 2016 through the Rockot launcher. Both will orbit the Earth in a pair and contain the same Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) instrument that carries five cameras. Both Sentinel 3A and 3B will operate in the same orbital plane and will be separated by a mere 140 degrees.

As per the latest reports, the upper stage of the Rockot launcher has sent the Sentinel-3B satellite into a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at an altitude of about 503 miles (810 kilometers), inclined at 98.65 degrees. The Sentinel-3B rocket was built by Thales Alenia Space. The satellite weighs almost 1,150 kilograms (2,535 lb) and has a lifespan of about seven years, but the amount of fuel that it carries can push it to operate for twelve years.

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