London, March 8: The European Union on Tuesday successfully launched the fifth satellite of the Copernicus observation program to provide speedy images of land, oceans and waterways. However, this satellite will cut the time of imaging the earth by half. The program is aimed at improving the life of EU communities by providing near-real-time global environment data.
The European Commission said in a statement that in the night from 6 to 7 March, the 5th satellite of Europe's Earth observation programme Copernicus was successfully sent into orbit. “This latest Copernicus satellite launch will improve services for farmers, fishermen and other users of land and sea maps,” the commission added.
The fifth satellite of the Copernicus observation program joined its twin Sentinel-2A, which has been in orbit since 2015, to take high-resolution, color and infrared images for a wide array of environmental initiatives, including crop forecasting and monitoring natural disasters. Both the satellites will orbit 488 miles (786 km) above Earth, on opposite sides of the planet.
However, both the satellites together will be able to cover all of Earth's land surfaces, large islands, inland and coastal waterways every five days, providing more up-to-date images and at a higher resolution than have been available.
Interestingly, the Copernicus project is described by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the most ambitious Earth observation program to date. The European Union and the ESA have committed funding of more than 8 billion euros ($9 billion) to it until 2020. Notably, the launch of the Copernicus project became especially urgent after Europe lost contact with its Earth observation satellite Envisat in 2012 after 10 years.