iD magazine - - Space -

Sentinel-1a alone sends 8,000 gi­ga­bits of data back to Earth every day. What makes the satel­lite unique: In the­ory it al­lows any­one to play the role of en­vi­ron­men­tal re­searcher or search the seas for un­usual ob­jects from the com­fort of one’s home. That’s be­cause: “The data are com­pletely free to ac­cess and can be down­loaded from the In­ter­net,” says Sentinel de­vel­oper Michael Rast (http:// sci­ Sentinel can even help ex­pose il­licit fish­ing ves­sels and pol­luters, as Volker Liebig, the ESA director of Earth Ob­ser­va­tion, re­veals: “Us­ing radar, the satel­lite can see very clearly when a ship emits oil residues into the sea or when an oil spill has taken place.” Sentinel’s pre­de­ces­sor, En­visat, had also been used in the hunt for ocean pol­luters. The ad­van­tage Sentinel has over Google Earth: It records every point on the planet every five days, “in con­trast with Google, where the data can be up to two years old,” says Liebig.

WIN­DOW OF TIME When Sentinel de­tects a ves­sel il­le­gally dis­pos­ing of oily mix­tures in the ocean, the recorded images must be sent to the Ger­man Aero­space Cen­ter back on Earth within 20 min­utes so the ap­pro­pri­ate Coast Guard agency can be promptly in­formed

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