A Euro-American satellite to monitor changes in sea level successfully takes off

The Euro-American satellite ‘Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich’ of Copernicus has taken off successfully at 18.17 Spanish time (9.20 local time) aboard a Space X Falcon 9 rocket from the American Vandenberg air force base in California. This satellite is built to monitor changes in sea level.

This is the first of two identical satellites that will provide key measurements of changes in sea level. Once safely in orbit, the satellite will continue to record long-term reference sea surface height data, thus extending it into its fourth decade of records.

By mapping 95% of the planet’s free ocean every ten days, it will provide crucial information for operational oceanography and climatology.

Sea level rise is a key indicator of climate change, so accurate monitoring of changes in sea surface height over decades is essential for climatology, for policy, and for protecting those involved. They are in risk areas due to their low altitude.

The satellite is named after Michael H. Freilich, former director of NASA’s Earth Sciences Division. The mission is a collaboration between ESA, the European Commission, EUMETSAT, NASA and NOAA, with support from the French space agency CNES.