A short time ago, the Sentinel-6A Michael Freilich satellite was launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg base. After almost exactly an hour, it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and set off on its course to reach the polar orbit at 1,336 kilometers altitude where its scientific mission will begin.
This mission is a collaboration between NASA, ESA, EUMETSAT, and NOAA. For this reason, it was named Michael Freilich after the former Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, who passed away on August 5, 2020, alongside NASA’s Jason satellites and at the same time is part of ESA’s Copernicus program. The program originally called Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and later Copernicus aims to create an autonomous territorial control system through a constellation of satellites that have different functions.
Sentinel-6A Michael Freilich is a weather and oceanographic satellite specializing in monitoring sea levels. Over the years, the Jason series satellites already conducted this type of monitoring. This new mission aims to improve it with higher resolution detections that will allow to obtain more detailed information.
A series of instruments will be used to do the job, in particular the radio altimeter. The launch of the twin satellite, the Sentinel-6B, is scheduled for 2025, and initially the Sentinel-6A-Michael Freilich will work together with the Jason 3.
A secondary mission for the Sentinel-6A Michael Freilich satellite is linked to a meteorological experiment. The Global Navigation Satellite System Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) instrument will help monitor the various layers in the atmosphere by providing useful weather forecast information.
The primary mission of the Sentinel-6A Michael Freilich satellite remains linked to ocean monitoring. Collecting data on climate change is crucial for the future of the planet and especially for the future of humanity. The impact of rising sea levels must be accurately assessed to understand among other things the risks that will affect coastal areas, with the possible consequences on inhabited areas. A global collaboration will get information about a global problem, hoping that we can find some solutions soon.