Blog about satellites: launches, operations, studies, fall.

The Sentinel-5P satellite blasting off atop a Rockot vehicle (Photo ESA)

A few hours ago, the Sentinel-5P satellite of the Copernicus / GMES program, blasted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia, on a Rockot with a Briz-KM upper stage rocket. The satellite regularly separated from the rocket’s last stage and after about an hour and a half started sending signals.

The Sentinel-5P – where “P” stands for Precursor – satellite is the first of the Copernicus constellation devoted to atmospheric monitoring. The term Precursor is due to the fact that it’s the forerunner of the future Sentinel-5 satellite and represents a step forward compared to Envisat. It will complement the EUMETSAT’s MetOp meteorological satellites and work in coordination with the Suomi-NPP American mission, which began in 2011 with similar aims.

Model of the Earth's magnetic field (Image ESA)

ESA has published the most detailed map ever created of the Earth’s magnetic field using data collected over three years of the mission of its three Swarm satellites. For this work, data collected by the German CHAMP (Challenging minisatellite Payload) mission in the last decade were also used together with new modeling techniques. The result was the extraction of the tiny magnetic signals from the Earth’s crust.

The Sun during a solar flare (Image NASA/NOAA)

NASA released an image of the solar flare occurred on January 21 captured by the GOES-16 satellite that the agency runs with NOAA using the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) instrument. It’s specifically aimed to observe the Sun and monitor phenomena such as solar storms, which can have consequences on the activity of satellites but also of power plants and other human activities.

Global soil moisture map (Image MIT/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” describes an analysis of data collected during the first year of NASA’s SMAP satellite’s mission. The results were surprising, especially because the data about the soil’s upper layer has a kind of memory of weather, more than you might think from theoretical models or from incomplete surveys carried out prior to this mission.