Press release archive: 2014

The soon-to-be-launched Sentinel satellite will provide information about ice and snow cover

1.4.2014 17:41

A new era of European remote sensing will begin on 3 April when the first Copernicus Sentinel satellite will be launched into orbit from French Guiana. The satellite is especially useful for the monitoring of the ice situation, snow cover and floods.

Photo: ESA

Photo: ESA

The Sentinel satellites are a series of remote sensing satellites developed by ESA, the European Space Agency, which will produce an unprecedented number of measurements and satellite images. The primary goal of the Sentinel-1A to be launched is ground surface and ocean observation.

FMI will use the information, among other purposes, for the monitoring of ice and snow cover

The satellite to be launched on Thursday, 3 April, will generate data that FMI can use in many ways. The Sentinel-1 serves immediate Finnish needs by measuring the ice and snow of the Baltic Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The measurements will help assess the scope of the sea-ice cover and determine the movement of ice.
Combined with ice-breaker reports and a variety of model results, sea-ice thickness can also be calculated from the Sentinel-1 images. All of this information can be used in the ice services offered to Baltic Sea ice-breakers. The materials can also be used, for example, for the detection and monitoring of oil spills and ships.

The Sentinal-1 images taken of land areas will be used, for example, for flood detection and forest and land-use remote sensing. At the same time, Sentinel will produce reliable measurement data for climate change research from remote areas. FMI will use the Sentinel-1 data, in particular, to monitor the extent of snow cover and the melting of snow in the Arctic regions.  

Satellite data will be received in Sodankylä

A Sentinel satellite data archiving and distribution centre is currently being constructed at FMI Sodankylä's national satellite data centre. The Copernicus Collaborative Ground Station will serve as a national archive and distribution platform of the Sentinel data, which will serve the Finnish users of Sentinel data. The repository will serve as a mirror server that will load all of the data of interest to Finnish users into the archive centrally located in Sodankylä. Research institutes may, for example, search the data in the archive for their own needs or a variety of products can be made from it for the needs of different users. From the start, the Sentinel 1 data will be delivered in nearly real time from Sodankylä to FMI for the monitoring of the Baltic Sea ice cover and the control of ice-breaking operations.

Sentinel 1-B will be launched in 2016

The satellites continue a series of earlier European satellites, ensuring that measurements continue without interruption. Each satellite belonging to the EU-Copernicus programme focuses on a different area of remote sensing: remote sensing of the atmosphere, oceans and land. The satellite instrument is a Synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which enables target images irrespective of lighting or weather. Sentinel-1B, a sister satellite of Sentinel-1A, will be launched in 2016. Using these two satellites together, areas of interest can be depicted more frequently than using a single satellite.

Additional information:

Sentinel Satellite and Reception Centre: Head of Group Jyri Heilimo, tel. +358 50 568 0802,

Marine Research:  Head of Group Eero Rinne, tel. +358 50 448 7681,

Oceanographic Services: Head of Group Antti Kangas, tel. +358 40 867 8838,