The new Sentinel-3A satellite recently began providing data from orbit. This very early image recorded on 3 March 2016, takes us over the River Nile and Delta and the surrounding desert areas of northeast Africa and parts of the Middle East.
Very distinct is Egypt, a country connecting northeast Africa with the Middle East, home to millennia-old monuments still sitting along the lush Nile valley.
In the centre of the image, capital city Cairo with the Nile snaking northwards is clearly visible, along with the Red Sea just further east. Also evident are the islands of Cyprus further north in the Mediterranean Sea and parts of Crete on the very left.
One of the suite of sophisticated instruments that will measure Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere, Sentinel-3’s Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) measures the energy radiating from Earth’s surface in nine spectral bands, including visible and infrared.
The instrument improves on the capabilities of the Advanced Along-Track Scanning Radiometer carried by the Envisat satellite of 2002–12, including a wider swath of 1400 km, new channels and a partly higher spatial resolution.
Combining radiometer and colour data helps us to understand the state of vegetation better.
Launched last 16 February, Sentinel-3 will systematically measure Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics. It will provide essential information in near-real time for ocean and weather forecasting, among other major applications.
Over land, this innovative mission will provide a bigger picture by monitoring wildfires, mapping the way land is used, providing indices of vegetation state and measuring the height of rivers and lakes, complementing the high-resolution measurements of its sister mission, Sentinel-2.
(Images: European Space Agency)