Sentinel-6 will have a one-year commissioning period after which raw data from the satellite will be available for the public to download from the website of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
With spectators filling Lompoc Valley viewing sites, a Falcon 9 rocket roared to life Saturday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base en route to delivering NASA newest ocean-monitoring satellite to space.
It'll use radar to bounce signals off the ocean.
This mix of estimations will show the amount of ocean level ascent comes from dissolving ice sheets, and how much from ocean rise comes from sea development because of generally speaking sea warming, said Karen St. Germain, overseer of NASA's Earth science division, in an instructions zeroed in on the mission's science return.
The spacecraft's main instrument is a radar altimeter provided by ESA, which bounces radio pulses off the ocean to measure sea level as well as wave height and ocean speed. The second is set to launch in 2025.
The instrument will also be able to measure the roughness of the ocean surface, data that will allow researchers to keep tabs on ocean winds. A similar rocket is scheduled to launch the Sentine-6 satellite on Saturday. The sibling satellites will provide continuity to the effort to monitor changes to Earth's sea surface topography.
The satellite, known as Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and jointly developed by Europe and the United States, contains cutting-edge instruments able to capture sea surface height with unprecedented accuracy, adding to space-based measurements going back nearly 30 years.
Sentinel-6 will not be represented separately in products from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but it will strengthen models, maps, NOAA and other partners in the mission it is already producing to keep the world's population safe from intensifying hurricanes, the representatives said.
It is named after the late director of NASA's Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich, an oceanographer who was instrumental in getting the USA space agency to join the mission.
Though global warming reports often focus on changes in air temperature, the majority of the sun's energy is absorbed by the ocean.
But this satellite could also contribute to a greater understanding of how the Earth's climate is shifting in general, from its global ocean all the way to the top of its atmosphere. "They will basically see the same ocean conditions, and that, of course, makes comparing the measurements much better", he said at a pre-launch briefing.
"Since 70% of the Earth's surface is oceans, the oceans play an important role in how the entire system functions [of global warming] "These global changes create risks and opportunities for our human societies", she said".
Its ability to detect areas of taller, warmer water will be particular useful to scientists working to predict the paths and intensities of hurricanes, as well as to research studying the influence of El Nino on weather patterns around the world.
The rocket will be carrying NASA's Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which will join a almost 30-year project to measure global sea-surface height, while also providing atmospheric data that officials say will improve weather forecasts, climate modeling and hurricane tracking.
Freilich was instrumental in advancing efforts to monitor Earth's oceans from space.