Minimize Orbit

The SENTINEL-2 orbit is sun-synchronous. Sun-synchronous orbits are used to ensure the angle of sunlight upon the Earth’s surface is consistently maintained. Apart from small seasonal variations, anchoring of the satellites orbit to the angle of the sun minimises the potential impact of shadows and levels of illumination on the ground. This ensures consistency over time and is critical in assessing time-series data.

The mean orbital altitude of the SENTINEL-2 constellations is 786 km. The orbit inclination is 98.62° and the Mean Local Solar Time (MLST) at the descending node is 10:30 (am). This value of MLST was chosen as a compromise between a suitable level of solar illumination and the minimisation of potential cloud cover. The MLST value is close to the local overpass time of LANDSAT and almost identical to that of SPOT-5, permitting the integration of SENTINEL-2 data with existing and historical missions, and contributing to long-term time series data collection.