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article imageOcean monitoring satellite arrives at California launch site

By Karen Graham     Oct 1, 2020 in Science
The world's latest ocean-monitoring satellite, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft, has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California to be prepared for its November 10 launch.
The spacecraft arrived on September 24, after a two-day journey from an IABG engineering facility near Munich, Germany. "The spacecraft had a smooth trip from Europe and is in good shape," said Parag Vaze, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "Final preparations are under way to see the satellite safely into Earth orbit in a little under seven weeks."
On January 23 this year, NASA - along with ESA (European Space Agency), the European Commission (EC), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held a ceremony renaming the Sentinel-6A satellite after Earth scientist Dr. Michael H. Freilich.
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is one of two identical spacecraft that compose the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission developed in partnership between NASA and the ESA.
Artist s rendition of the deployed Sentinel-6/Jason-CS satellite in orbit. The satellite was renamed...
Artist's rendition of the deployed Sentinel-6/Jason-CS satellite in orbit. The satellite was renamed the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich.
ESA
This mission is made up of identical satellites, Jason-6A and Jason-6B and will be launched five years apart. They both have a lifespan of seven years, so the thinking is they will overlap on their data collection. They’re built by German company IABG and both will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Jason-6A is scheduled for launch at 11:31 a.m. PST (2:31 p.m. EST) on Nov. 10, 2020. Once in orbit, the satellite will collect sea surface height measurements down to the centimeter for more than 90 percent of the world's oceans. The twin satellites will be contributing to a nearly 30 year continuous data record - following in the footsteps of three previous missions - TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, Ocean Surface Topography/Jason-2, and Jason-3.
Jason-6A will go through a final checkout at the SpaceX payload processing facility at Vandenberg to verify that the satellite is healthy and ready for launch. The 1,200-kilogram (2,646 pounds) satellite must be in great shape for the task it will be undertaking.
"The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite will extend our observation record of global sea level, advance our understanding of the Earth as a system, and inform decision-makers, from federal to local levels, who must manage the risks associated with rising sea level," said Karen St. Germain, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington.
More about Sentinel6 Michael Freilich satellite, two identical satellites, Sea levels, falcon 9 rocket, Vsndenberg AFS
 
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