As Sentinel-2A nears the end of testing before being shipped to its launch site, one of the last jobs has been to make sure the satellite's laser terminal is up to the job of delivering large volumes of data at breakneck speed.
Sentinel-2A is the next of ESA's satellites dedicated to Europe's environmental monitoring Copernicus programme.
It carries a state-of-the-art high-resolution multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands which, along with the satellite's wide swath of 290 km and frequent revisit times, will provide unprecedented views of Earth's land and vegetation.
This new mission will be used to improve agricultural practices, map changes in land cover, monitor the world's forests and detect pollution in lakes and coastal waters. In addition, images of floods, volcanic eruptions and landslides will contribute to disaster mapping and help humanitarian relief efforts.
Having access to imagery as fast as possible is essential for a number of these applications.