Categories: GIS Learning

First Data Released From ESA Satellite Sentinel 3-A

The first batch of data from the European Space Agencies (ESA) new Sentinel 3-A satellite has been released to the public.


Described as the most comprehensive of all the Sentinel missions, Sentinel 3-A carries a variety of state of the art instruments. These are being used to monitor and measure a wide range of Earth systems in near real-time. Critical information can be gathered on oceans, land, ice, and atmosphere, providing broad coverage of our planet’s dynamic systems.

The ocean and land colour instrument will monitor global oceans and inland waters, examining a range of phenomena including phytoplankton, water quality and harmful algal blooms amongst others. The craft can also support observations of vegetation and crop conditions, while providing estimates of atmospheric aerosols and clouds.

The radiometer on Sentinel 3-A has dedicated channels for fire monitoring, enabling assessment of fire damage and burnt area recovery. The radiometer can also be used to measure global land and sea surface temperatures, which can be used for weather forecasting and assessment of urban heat islands.


The newly released data is first-level data from the spacecraft’s radiometer, which measures energy emitted from the Earth’s surface in nine different bands. This data is unprocessed and is being released primarily for expert users to conduct testing and ensure the data is of the highest quality.

This image of the western Mediterranean was taken by Sentinel-3A’s Ocean and Land Colour Instrument on 16 October 2016. The islands of Corsica and Sardinia can be seen in the west with coast of Tuscany and the island of Elba to the northeast. The waters along the east coast of Corsica and along the Italian coast are coloured by discharge from the land following recent heavy rainfall. Image: modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016) processed by Eumetsat.

Susanne Mecklenburg, the Sentinel 3-A mission manager explains “It is imperative that these first-level data are the best quality possible so we are being extremely careful. It is now very gratifying to see data from the satellite’s ocean and land colour instrument being released to users worldwide. Data from the other two instruments; the sea and land surface temperature radiometer and the radar altimeter will be made available in November and December respectively.”

The data made available from the Sentinel 3-A will provide an excellent source of information on Earth systems, and benefit societies globally by providing more detailed information for decision makers.



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