International Sea Level Satellite Takes Over From Predecessor

Meltwater from Greenland glaciers like the one pictured can contribute significantly to sea level rise. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich monitors the height of Earth’s oceans so that researchers can better understand the amount and rate of sea level rise. (Credits: NASA Earth Observatory using Landsat data from USGS)

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the newest addition to a long line of ocean-monitoring satellites, becomes the reference satellite for sea level measurements.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On March 22, the newest U.S.-European sea level satellite, named Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, became the official reference satellite for global sea level measurements. This means that sea surface height data collected by other satellites will be compared to the information produced by Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich to ensure their accuracy.

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Sentinel-6 Returning Most Precise Data Ever on Sea Level

Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission spacecraft (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Sea-level rise is one of the most immediate consequences of climate change, as highlighted recently through urgent pleas from leaders of island nations at the COP26 summit. Global measures of sea-level rise are imperative to underpinning global policy and for strategies to protect coastlines and low-lying lands. Measuring tiny differences in the height of the sea surface from space is no easy task – but that’s exactly what the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is doing. And, after a year of exhaustive testing, this new mission is now delivering the world’s most accurate data on sea-level rise. 

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NASA, ESA Partner in New Effort to Address Global Climate Change

To measure water depth and salinity, the OMG project dropped probes by plane into fjords along Greenland’s coast. Shown here is one such fjord in which a glacier is undercut by warming water. The brown water is caused by sediment being dredged up from the base of the glacier by meltwater plumes. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have formed a first-of-its-kind strategic partnership to observe Earth and its changing environment. The global climate is rapidly changing and the demand for accurate, timely, and actionable knowledge is more pressing than ever. Recognizing that climate change is an urgent global challenge, the timing is right for NASA and ESA, as partners in space, to join forces to lead and support a global response to climate change. The partnership is an effort to help address and mitigate climate change through monitoring Earth with combined efforts of both agencies in Earth science observations, research, and applications.

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Major Ocean-Observing Satellite Starts Providing Science Data

This map shows sea level measured by the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite from June 5 to15. Red areas are regions where sea level is higher than normal, and blue areas indicate areas where it’s lower than normal. (Credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the latest spacecraft to monitor sea surface height, releases its first science measurements to users.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — After six months of check-out and calibration in orbit, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will make its first two data streams available to the public on June 22. It launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 21, 2020, and is a U.S.-European collaboration to measure sea surface height and other key ocean features, such as ocean surface wind speed and wave height.

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Sentinel-6 Passes In-orbit Tests with Flying Colors

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In November 2020, the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched into orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Now, months later, the satellite has successfully passed what is known as the ‘in-orbit verification phase’, where its equipment is switched on and the instruments’ performance is checked.

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The Good, the Bad and the Brexit: UK’s Participation in European Space Programs Curtailed by EU Departure

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although the United Kingdom’s (UK) “Brexit” departure from the European Union (EU) on Jan. 1 will not affect its membership status in the European Space Agency (ESA), the nation’s participation in a number of European space programs is either ending or being curtailed.

On Christmas Eve, the UK and EU announced an agreement in principle that will govern trade, security and political relations after Brexit. Under the agreement, the UK’s participation in the:

  • Galileo satellite navigation and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) program will end;
  • Copernicus Earth observation satellite program will continue, contingent upon a further agreement to be worked out next year; and
  • EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EUSST) program will end, although the Britain will continue to receive data as a non-EU country.
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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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NASA, US, European Partner Satellite Returns First Sea Level Measurements

The data in this graphic are the first sea surface height measurements from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (S6MF) satellite, which launched Nov. 21, 2020. They show the ocean off the southern tip of Africa, with red colors indicating higher sea level relative to blue areas, which are lower. (Credits: EUMETSAT)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, a joint U.S.-European satellite built to measure global sea surface height, has sent back its first measurements of sea level. The data provide information on sea surface height, wave height, and wind speed off the southern tip of Africa.

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EUMETSAT takes control of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich

Falcon 9 lifts off with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Copyright 2020 Kenneth Brown)

DARMSTADT, Germany (EUMETSAT PR) — Three days after the launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich from California, ESOC, ESA’s space Operations Centre, handed over flight operations of the Copernicus ocean-monitoring satellite to EUMETSAT.

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Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Flies RUAG Space’s New Generation Navigation Receiver

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

BERN, Switzerland (RUAG Space PR) — With Saturday’s launch of ocean monitoring satellite Sentinel-6, two new Precise Orbit Determination Receivers (PODRIX) from RUAG Space made their maiden flight.

PODRIX achieves a very high, real-time in-orbit accuracy of the satellite’s position in orbit from below one meter to a few centimeters utilizing on-ground post-processing. The high accuracy is achieved through simultaneously processing of multi-frequency signals from the U.S. GPS and European Galileo satellites.  

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Of Rockets, Sand and Oceans: A Trip to Vandenberg

The top of a Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Greetings from Lompoc.

Ken Brown and I drove over from Mojave today for the Falcon 9 launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite on Saturday morning. Launch is scheduled for 9:17 a.m. PST. As always, your local time may vary. You can catch all the action on NASA TV.

The European environmental satellite, which NASA and NOAA are supporting, will study the oceans. That’s something we saw a good bit of today.

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Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Satellite Set to Launch on Saturday From Vandenberg

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite undergoes final preparations in a clean room at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for an early November launch. (Credits: ESA/Bill Simpson)

The newest satellite to monitor global sea level is ready for its journey into space. Here’s what to expect.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the latest in a series of spacecraft designed to monitor our oceans, is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. The satellite will be followed in 2025 by its twin, Sentinel-6B. Together, the pair is tasked with extending our nearly 30-year-long record of global sea surface height measurements. Instruments aboard the satellites will also provide atmospheric data that will improve weather forecasts, climate models, and hurricane tracking.

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Crew-1 Launch Targeted for Mid-November, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Remains on Schedule

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Kathy Lueders gave a Twitter update on the progress SpaceX is making in dealing with an anomaly during a recent launch. Her tweets are below.

We are making a lot of good progress with @SpaceX on engine testing to better understand the unexpected behavior observed during a recent non-NASA launch.

It’s too early to report findings at this point, as @SpaceX continues testing to validate what’s believed to be the most credible cause.

Based on our current analysis, @SpaceX is replacing one Merlin engine on the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich launch vehicle and one engine for Crew-1 rocket that displayed similar early-start behavior during testing.

We are still targeting the Sentinel-6 launch for Nov. 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base as we expect to complete forward work in time.

We are also still working towards a mid-November launch for Crew-1. We will want a few days between Sentinel-6 and Crew-1 to complete data reviews and check performance. Most importantly, we will fly all our missions when we are ready.

Crew-1 mission will be the first commercial flight of the Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station.

U.S.-European Sea Level Satellite Gears Up for Launch

This animation shows the radar pulse from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite’s altimeter bouncing off the sea surface in order to measure the height of the ocean. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will soon be heading into orbit to monitor the height of the ocean for nearly the entire globe.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Preparations are ramping up for the Nov. 10 launch of the world’s latest sea level satellite. Since arriving in a giant cargo plane at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last month, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has been undergoing final checks, including visual inspections, to make sure it’s fit to head into orbit.

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Virtual Briefing Set on Launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Satellite

Mission team members perform acoustic tests of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in a chamber outfitted with giant speakers that blast the spacecraft with sound. This is to ensure that the high decibels associated with liftoff won’t damage the spacecraft. (Credit: Airbus)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Officials from NASA and partner agencies will discuss the upcoming launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ocean-monitoring satellite during a media briefing at 10 a.m. EDT (7 a.m. PDT), Friday, Oct. 16. The launch is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10. The media briefing will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter.

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