Sentinel-3 second stage separation

PML scientists use latest EU Sentinel satellite to study the oceans

Sentinel-3 second stage separation, image courtesy of ESA/ATG medialab

 

The third in a series of Earth observation satellites was launched by the European Space Agency, ESA this evening.

For PML scientists the launch of the Sentinel 3 OLCI sensor is the most significant launch in 15 years as it will replace the previous satellite Envisat/MERIS launched in 2002, later expiring in 2012.  Sentinel 3/OLCI will continue the legacy left by the Envisat/MERIS, which saw many advances in optical remote sensing in complex waters, particularly shallow waters, coasts, estuaries and lakes.

The new capability of the Sentinel 3/OLCI will allow PML scientists to develop and maintain ways to assess oceanic changes, as well as help to manage impacts in areas where society meets inland water and marine environments.

Through the data collected, PML scientists will be able to provide information on water types and quality, which can then be used to support interdisciplinary research, environmental management, spatial planning, and sustainable development. The high resolution ocean colour imagery provided by Sentinel 3/OLCI (300m) means that the data can be used for observing inland waters like lakes, whilst the number of bands means that the scientists can use more complex algorithms to better monitor these waters. Other satellites launched since 2002 were limited by having a lower resolution, fewer wavebands or simply not being optimised to measure ocean colour.

PML Head of Science for Earth Observation science Steve Groom commented:

“What makes Sentinel 3, and the entire Copernicus programme special, is the continuity of coverage it will provide for global maps of phytoplankton chlorophyll-a in the seas and oceans. Up until now, space agencies have typically launched single satellites to gather data, yet once that satellite reaches the end of its life the data stop. Now, over the next 20 years, with Sentinel 3 b, c and d following on from Sentinel-3a, we are almost guaranteed no gaps in the data. The images received from Sentinel 3 are crucial for the work we do at PML both for our research and the services we provide”.

Other recent news articles

News

Are we underestimating microplastics in the marine environment

A new study, led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory, suggests an underestimation of microplastics in the ocean.

News

Acidifying oceans may threaten crucial links in Earth climate cycles

A review of more than two hundred studies highlights where research needs to focus if we are to understand vital oceanic processes that can alter the Earth’s climate.

News

How well can we predict the future Fish of the Day?

An international team of modellers and researchers have collaborated to find out how reliable projections of today’s fisheries forecasting models are in the North-East Atlantic.