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Sentinel 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D

Sentinel 2 [Airbus Defence and Space]

The European Space Agency and Astrium signed in April 2008 a €195 million contract to provide the first Sentinel-2 Earth observation satellite, devoted to monitoring the land environment, as part of the European GMES programme. As prime contractor, Astrium is responsible for the design, development and integration of the satellite, which will perform a high-end multi-spectral optical imaging mission.

Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) aims to deliver environment and security services and is being led by the European Commission. It is the European response to the ever-increasing demands of effective environmental policies. At the same time, it is the European contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

ESA is responsible for implementation of the GMES Space Component, a set of Earth observation missions involving ESA, EU/ESA Member States and other partners. Central elements of the Space Component are the five families of Sentinel missions.

Sentinel-2 will deliver crucial data for information services to the EU and its Member States under GMES. The services fed by it cover areas such as climate change, sustainable development, environmental policies, European civil protection, common agricultural policy, development aid, humanitarian aid and the Common Foreign & Security Policy.

Sentinel-2 will support the operational generation of products such as the mapping of land cover, land use, change detection and geophysical variables. The mission objective is systematic coverage of the earth's land surface (from -56 to +83 latitude) to produce cloud-free imagery typically every 15 to 30 days over Europe.

Sentinel-2 features MSI (Multispectral Imager), a 290 km-wide coverage, 10-20 m spatial resolution, 13 optical channel instrument (operating from visible-near infrared to shortwave infrared) and will ensure enhanced-quality continuity with existing missions SPOT and Landsat. It will provide improved revisit time, swath width, coverage area, spectral bands, calibration and image quality. These features will enable it to contribute effectively to GMES needs for operational land and emergency services.

ESA carried out the Sentinel-2 definition phase over 2005/2006. The implementation phase started in October 2007. The launch of the first Sentinel-2 satellite is planned for October 2012. At a later stage, a second Sentinel-2 satellite is planned to increase the revisit rate.

The industrial consortium led by Astrium-GmbH (platform and satellite prime) includes a number of core-team partners: Astrium SAS is responsible for the payload instrument and system support activities; Boostec (F) is providing the three-mirror Silicon carbide telescope; CASA (E) is responsible for satellite structural and thermal activities; Jena-Optronik (D) is responsible for the instrument electrical architecture including video signal processing and data compression; Sener (E) is supplying the instrument calibration and shutter mechanism.

In December 2009 ESA signed a contract for a duplicate second spacecraft called Sentinel 2B. In January 2016, two more satellite, Sentinel 2C and Sentinel 2D, were ordered to be launched from 2021 onwards.

Nation: Europe
Type / Application: Earth Observing (Ocean)
Operator: ESA
Contractors: EADS Astrium → Airbus Defence and Space
Equipment: MSI
Configuration: AstroBus-L
Power: Deployable solar array, batteries
Lifetime: 7.25 years (design); 12 years (fuel)
Mass: 1130 kg
Orbit: 786 km SSO
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Sentinel 2A 2015-028A 23.06.2015 Ko ELV Vega
Sentinel 2B 2017-013A 07.03.2017 Ko ELV Vega
Sentinel 2C - 2021 Ko ELV Vega (baselined)
Sentinel 2D - 202x Ko ELV Vega (baselined)


  • Thales Alenia Website