Sentinel 1 got off the ground successfully last Thursday, writes Dr Debbie Clifford (see http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/weather-and-climate-at-reading/2014/sentinel-a-new-chapter-in-climate-observation/).
Launch was at 21.02 GMT from Korou, French Guiana: http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2014/04/Sentinel-1A_liftoff
The satellite then successfully performed ‘a carefully choreographed 10-hour dance routine to open its large radar antenna and solar wings.’
During the launch, the 12 m-long radar and two 10 m-long solar wings were folded up to fit into the protective Soyuz rocket fairing. After being lofted to 693 km above Earth and released into orbit, the satellite gently ‘tumbled’ to stabilise before embarking on its elaborate dance routine. The solar wings and radar opened together in a specific sequence that took around 10 hours to complete. As one of most critical stages in the life of the mission, it was choreographed to ensure that both deploy in the safest possible way. The sequence also allowed power from the wings to be available as soon as possible so that the satellite was independent.
In the words of the Sentinel 1 project manager, “We now very much look forward to the end of the launch and early orbit phase, and then commissioning the satellite for operations.”
We expect the data to start streaming in July.