First radar pictures from Sentinel-1A

Launched on 3 April, ESA’s Sentinel-1A satellite has already delivered its first radar images of Earth.

This first image of Belgium was captured on 12 April, just one day after the satellite was put into its operational attitude, and demonstrates the potential of Sentinel-1A’s radar vision.

Since it was launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, Sentinel-1A has undertaken a complicated routine to deploy its 12-m long radar and two 10-m long solar wings, as well as passing a series of initial instrument checks.

The satellite is not yet in its operational orbit, nor is it calibrated for supplying true data. These tasks will be carried out during the commissioning phase, which will take about three months to complete. This preliminary set of images simply offer a taster of what’s to come.

ESA’s Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes, Volker Liebig, commented, “We are in very early days of the satellite’s life in orbit and ground segment operations, but these images certainly demonstrate the calibre of data this advanced radar mission will bring from its different imaging modes, and how it will provide essential data for Copernicus services to benefit us all.”

This first set of acquisitions also included an area in Namibia that is currently flooded by the Zambezi river. Although commissioning has only just begun, the team tasked the satellite to image the flood as would be routine in the case of an emergency when the mission is fully operational.  The images were then available in less than an hour once they had been received by the ground station.

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