On November 21, 2020, ‘Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich’ – A Satellite developed by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States (US) & European Space Agency (ESA) to monitor rising global sea levels was successfully launched into the orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
i.It is the first of two satellites jointly developed by NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ESA, EUMETSAT (Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) and European Commission to provide accurate measurement of rising sea levels.
ii.The satellite will ensure the continuity in measures of rising sea levels which began in 1992.
i.The Spacecraft was built by Airbus Defence and Space in Germany.
ii.It will enhance weather forecasts and provide detailed information regarding large-scale ocean currents for supporting ship navigation near coastlines.
iii.Sentinel-6 is equipped with a Global Navigation Satellite System Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) instrument to provide measure of atmospheric temperature and moisture.
iv.Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will continue the sea level record which began in 1992 with TOPEX/Poseidon satellite and continue with Jason-1 (2001). OSTM/Jason-2 (2008) and Jason-3 (2016.)
v.The satellite Sentinel-6 will pass its responsibilities to its twin, Sentinel-6B in 2025.
i.Both satellites will measure sea level down to a few centimeters for 90% of the world’s oceans.
ii.Global sea level is increasing at 0.13 inches (3.3 millimetres) each year, which is 30% more than when NASA launched its first satellite mission to measure ocean heights in 1992.
iii.The initial orbit of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is about 12.5 miles (20.1 kilometers) lower than its ultimate operational orbit of 830 miles (1,336 kilometers).
i.The spacecraft is named in honor of Michael Freilich, former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, who was a pioneer in advancing ocean observations from space.
ii.He passed away in August, 2020 due to Cancer.
Recent Related News:
i.On October 1, 2020, NASA launched the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft named “SS Kalpana Chawla” after its astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born woman to enter space
ii.On May 20, 2020 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) renamed its Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope(WFIRST), a next-generation space telescope as Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope
About National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
Administrator – Jim Bridestine
Headquarters – Washington D.C., US
About European Space Agency (ESA):
Director General – Jan Worner
Headquarters – Paris, France