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Europe's Copernicus Offers a Daily Dose of Earth Data

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Science  07 Mar 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6175, pp. 1071
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6175.1071

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Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The Sentinel-1A satellite is part of a program called Copernicus, which will launch a half-dozen craft over the next 7 years and then send up an identical copy of each to boost data gathering and serve as backups. The result will be the world's first operational environmental monitoring system, a cousin to the operational meteorological services that have provided weather forecasts for decades. Sensors on the Sentinels will measure the state of the ocean surface and its temperature, monitor changes in land use, and take soundings of the atmosphere's composition and temperature.