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Five years of land monitoring and much more

22 June 2020

This day—23 June 2020, marks five years of successful operations of the Sentinel-2A mission of the European Union's Copernicus Programme.

Copernicus Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015, followed by its twin on 7 March 2017, both delivering information for applications such as agriculture; land ecosystems monitoring; forests management; inland and coastal water quality monitoring; disasters mapping and civil security.

With 18 million products acquired to date and freely available for download, this mission continues to be a game changer in Earth observation applications, making a significant contribution to Copernicus themes such as climate change, land monitoring, emergency management and security.

Copernicus Sentinel-2A and -2B will be joined by two new satellites— Copernicus -2C and -2D—in the next years, thus ensuring continuity. These four satellites will only mark the beginning, as a second generation of satellites is being prepared, which will carry on the success of Copernicus Sentinel-2 for many years to come.

First image from Copernicus Sentinel-2A
First image from Copernicus Sentinel-2A Northwest Italy and southern France
Copyright: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)/ESA

Acquired on 27 June 2015 at 10:25 UTC (12:25 CEST), just four days after launch, this first image from Sentinel-2A covers the Po Valley, framed by the Alps in the north and the coastal mountains of France and Italy in the south.

The stripes observed over water are expected artefacts due to the arrangement of the detectors in the multispectral instrument. Each detector has a slightly different viewing direction, which translates into marginal difference in the measured reflectances.

 

Barents bloom
Barents bloom Copyright: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016),
processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Although it may appear as a watercolour painting, this image is a natural-colour capture of a plankton bloom in the Barents Sea by the Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite. Read more

 

Etna Erupts
Etna erupts Copyright: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data
Copyright: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

This image of the lava flowing from Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, was captured today at 10:45 GMT (11:45 CET) by the Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite.

Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and has one of the world's longest records for continuous eruption. Today, however, there was a sudden explosion resulting in several people being injured.

The red hot lava flowing from Mount Etna can be seen clearly in the image from Sentinel-2A. The surrounding snow has been processed in blue to distinguish from the clouds.

 

East Bali, Indonesia
East Bali, Indonesia Copyright: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data
Copyright: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over the island of Bali, one of the 34 provinces of Indonesia.

Indonesia has more volcanoes than any other country in the world, owing to its position on the Pacific Ring of Fire. The islands of Java, Lombok, Sumbawa and Bali lie over a subduction zone where the Indo-Australian plate slides under the Eurasian plate, creating frequent seismic activity.

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Deforestation in Bolivia
Deforestation in Bolivia Copyright: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image features an area in the Santa Cruz Department of Bolivia, where part of the tropical dry forest has been cleared for agricultural use.

Since the 1980s, the area has been rapidly deforested owing to a large agricultural development effort where people from the Andean high plains (the Altiplano region) have been relocated to the lowlands of Bolivia.

The relatively flat lowlands and abundant rainfall make this region suitable for farming. In fact, the local climate allows farmers to benefit from two growing seasons. The region has been transformed from dense forest into a patterned expanse of agricultural land. This deforestation method, common in this part of Bolivia, is characterised by the radial patterns that can be seen clearly in the image.

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