Airbus’ MicroWave Radiometer instrument will provide added precision to the Sentinel-3 satellite by correcting for inaccuracies created by water vapor in the atmosphere.
A new highly precise MicroWave Radiometer (MWR) is ready to begin operations after the launch of the Sentinel-3B satellite. It is one of the essential instruments of the Sentinel-3 spacecraft, measuring atmospheric humidity as supplementary information for tropospheric path correction of the altimeter signal.
Additionally, MWR data is useful to measure:
- surface emissivity and soil moisture over land;
- Surface energy budget investigations which support atmospheric studies; and
- Ice characterisation.
The corrected measurements, along with a digital elevation mode, help the radar altimeter to work in Synthetic Aperture Radar mode, which is more precise and provides a much better spatial resolution along the track.
What will the data produced provide?
The data produced will allow researchers:
- To monitor sea-level changes;
- To monitor sea-level surface temperature;
- To manage water quality; and
- To track marine pollution and biological productivity.
It will also provide a land-monitoring service with wildfire detection, land-cover mapping and vegetation health monitoring, which will provide complementary data to the Sentinel-2 multispectral optical mission.
The Sentinel-3 spacecraft
Airbus is also responsible for the Sentinel-3 spacecrafts thermal architecture. This will ensure the correct performance during the extreme variations in temperature that the satellite will be subject to.
Sentinel-3 is the Copernicus operational medium resolution ocean and land mission, designed to provide continuity to optical and altimetry data of the Airbus built Envisat mission, as well as the vegetation data of ERS and SPOT missions.
This will ensure the long-term collection and operational delivery of high-quality measurements for ocean, land and atmospheric services.
The Sentinel-3B spacecraft will be sent into orbit on 25 April and will join Sentinel-3A, which was launched in 2016. This pairing of satellites provides the best coverage and data delivery for Copernicus.