Model of a Sentinel-2 satellite
OperatorEuropean Space Agency
ApplicationsLand and sea monitoring, natural disasters mapping, sea ice observations, ships detection
Spacecraft typeSatellite
Launch mass1,140 kg (2,513 lb)[2]
Dry mass1,016 kg (2,240 lb)[2]
Dimensions3.4 × 1.8 × 2.35 m (11.2 × 5.9 × 7.7 ft)[2]
Power1,700 W[3]
Design life7 years
Maiden launchSentinel-2A
23 June 2015
Last launchSentinel-2B
7 March 2017
← Sentinel-1 Sentinel-3

Sentinel-2 is an Earth observation mission from the Copernicus Programme that acquires optical imagery at high spatial resolution (10 m to 60 m) over land and coastal waters. The mission's Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-2B satellites are to be joined in orbit in 2024 by a third, Sentinel-2C.[4]

The mission supports services and applications such as agricultural monitoring, emergencies management, land cover classification, and water quality.

Sentinel-2 has been developed and is being operated by the European Space Agency. The satellites were manufactured by a consortium led by Airbus Defence and Space in Friedrichshafen, Germany.


The Sentinel-2 mission includes:

To achieve frequent revisits and high mission availability, two identical Sentinel-2 satellites (Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-2B) operate together. The satellites are phased 180 degrees from each other on the same orbit. This allows for what would be a 10-day revisit cycle to be completed in 5 days.[5] The 290 km swath is created by the VNIR and SWIR, which are each made of 12 detectors that are lined in two offset rows.[6]

The orbits are Sun-synchronous at 786 km (488 mi) altitude, 14.3 revolutions per day, with a 10:30 a.m. descending node. This local time was selected as a compromise between minimizing cloud cover and ensuring suitable Sun illumination. It is close to the Landsat local time and matches SPOT's, allowing the combination of Sentinel-2 data with historical images to build long-term time series.


The launch of the first satellite, Sentinel-2A, occurred 23 June 2015 at 01:52 UTC on a Vega launch vehicle.[7]

Sentinel-2B was launched on 7 March 2017 at 01:49 UTC,[8] also aboard a Vega rocket.[2]

Sentinel-2C is scheduled to launch in 2024 on a Vega launch vehicle.[9][4]


Sentinel-2A in the Vega fairing before launch in Kourou, French Guiana
Sentinel-2A in the Vega fairing before launch in Kourou, French Guiana

The Sentinel-2 satellites each carry a single instrument, the Multi-Spectral Instrument (MSI), which has 13 spectral channels in the visible/near infrared (VNIR) and short wave infrared spectral range (SWIR). Within the 13 bands, the 10 m (33 ft) spatial resolution allows for continued collaboration with the SPOT-5 and Landsat-8 missions, with the core focus being land classification.[10]

Designed and built by Airbus Defense and Space in France, the MSI uses a push-broom concept and its design was driven by the large 290 km (180 mi) swath requirements together with the high geometrical and spectral performance required of the measurements.[11] It has a 150 mm (6 in) aperture and a three-mirror anastigmat design with a focal length of about 600 mm (24 in); the instantaneous field of view is about 21° by 3.5°.[12] The mirrors are rectangular and made of silicon carbide, a similar technology to those on the Gaia astrometry mission. The MSI system also employs a shutter mechanism preventing direct illumination of the instrument by the sun. This mechanism is also used in the calibration of the instrument.[13] Out of the existing civic optical earth observation missions, Sentinel-2 is the first acquiring three bands in the red edge.[10] MSI has 12-bit radiometric resolution (bit depth) with brightness intensity ranging from 0–4095.[14]

Spectral bands

Spectral bands for the Sentinel-2 sensors[15]
Sentinel-2 bands Sentinel-2A Sentinel-2B
Central wavelength (nm) Bandwidth (nm) Central wavelength (nm) Bandwidth (nm) Spatial resolution (m)
Band 1 – Coastal aerosol 442.7 21 442.2 21 60
Band 2 – Blue 492.4 66 492.1 66 10
Band 3 – Green 559.8 36 559.0 36 10
Band 4 – Red 664.6 31 664.9 31 10
Band 5 – Vegetation red edge 704.1 15 703.8 16 20
Band 6 – Vegetation red edge 740.5 15 739.1 15 20
Band 7 – Vegetation red edge 782.8 20 779.7 20 20
Band 8 – NIR 832.8 106 832.9 106 10
Band 8A – Narrow NIR 864.7 21 864.0 22 20
Band 9 – Water vapour 945.1 20 943.2 21 60
Band 10 – SWIR – Cirrus 1373.5 31 1376.9 30 60
Band 11 – SWIR 1613.7 91 1610.4 94 20
Band 12 – SWIR 2202.4 175 2185.7 185 20

Temporal offsets

Due to the layout of the focal plane, spectral bands within the MSI observe the surface at different times and vary between band pairs.[13] These temporal offsets can be used to gain additional information, for example to track propagating natural and human-made features such as clouds, airplanes or ocean waves[16][17]


A Sentinel-2 image of the island of South Georgia
A Sentinel-2 image of the island of South Georgia

Sentinel-2 serves a wide range of applications related to Earth's land and coastal water.

The mission provides information for agricultural and forestry practices and for helping manage food security. Satellite images will be used to determine various plant indices such as leaf area chlorophyll and water content indexes. This is particularly important for effective yield prediction and applications related to Earth's vegetation.

As well as monitoring plant growth, Sentinel-2 is used to map changes in land cover and to monitor the world's forests. It also provides information on pollution in lakes and coastal waters. Images of floods, volcanic eruptions [18] and landslides contribute to disaster mapping and help humanitarian relief efforts.

Examples of applications include:

The Sentinel Monitoring web application offers an easy way to observe and analyse land changes based on archived Sentinel-2 data.[23]


The following two main products are generated by the mission:[24]

Additionally, the following product for expert users is also available:



  1. ^ a b c d "Sentinel 2". Earth Online. European Space Agency. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d van Oene, Jacques (17 November 2016). "ESA's Sentinel 2B spacecraft steps into the spotlight". Spaceflight Insider. Archived from the original on 12 December 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Sentinel-2 Data Sheet" (PDF). European Space Agency. August 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Gearing up for third Sentinel-2 satellite". ESA. 9 August 2021. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  5. ^ "Orbit - Sentinel 2 - Mission - Sentinel Online". Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Sentinel-2 - Missions - Instrument Payload - Sentinel Handbook". Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  7. ^ Nowakowski, Tomasz (23 June 2015). "Arianespace successfully launches Europe's Sentinel-2A Earth observation satellite". Spaceflight Insider. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  8. ^ Bergin, Chris (6 March 2017). "Sentinel-2B rides Vega to join Copernicus fleet". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  9. ^ Parsonson, Andrew (4 December 2023). "The Case of the Missing Vega AVUM Propellant Tanks". European Spaceflight. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  10. ^ a b "Copernicus: Sentinel-2 - Satellite Missions - eoPortal Directory". Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Sentinel-2 MSI: Overview". European Space Agency. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  12. ^ Chorvalli, Vincent (9 October 2012). GMES Sentinel-2 MSI Telescope Alignment (PDF). International Conference on Space Optics. 9–12 October 2012. Ajaccio, France. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  13. ^ a b "MSI Instrument – Sentinel-2 MSI Technical Guide – Sentinel Online". Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Radiometric - Resolutions - Sentinel-2 MSI - User Guides - Sentinel Online". Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  15. ^ "MultiSpectral Instrument (MSI) Overview". Sentinel Online. European Space Agency. Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  16. ^ Kudryavtsev, Vladimir; Yurovskaya, Maria; Chapron, Bertrand; Collard, Fabrice; Donlon, Craig (January 2017). "Sun glitter imagery of ocean surface waves. Part 1: Directional spectrum retrieval and validation". Journal of Geophysical Research. 122 (16): 1918. Bibcode:2017JGRC..122.1369K. doi:10.1002/2016JC012425.
  17. ^ Maisongrande, Philippe; Almar, Rafael; Bergsma, Erwin W. J. (January 2019). "Radon-Augmented Sentinel-2 Satellite Imagery to Derive Wave-Patterns and Regional Bathymetry". Remote Sensing. 11 (16): 1918. Bibcode:2019RemS...11.1918B. doi:10.3390/rs11161918.
  18. ^ Corradino, Claudia; Ganci, Gaetana; Cappello, Annalisa; Bilotta, Giuseppe; Hérault, Alexis; Del Negro, Ciro (2019). "Mapping Recent Lava Flows at Mount Etna Using Multispectral Sentinel-2 Images and Machine Learning Techniques". Remote Sensing. 16 (11): 1916. Bibcode:2019RemS...11.1916C. doi:10.3390/rs11161916.
  19. ^ Brandolini F, Domingo-Ribas G, Zerboni A et al. A Google Earth Engine-enabled Python approach for the identification of anthropogenic palaeo-landscape features [version 2; peer review: 2 approved, 1 approved with reservations]. Open Research Europe 2021, 1:22 (
  20. ^ Orengo, H. A., Petrie, C. A. (16 July 2017). "Large-scale, multi-temporal remote sensing of palaeo-river networks: A case study from Northwest India and its implications for the Indus civilisation". Remote Sensing. 9 (7): 735 (1–20). Bibcode:2017RemS....9..735O. doi:10.3390/rs9070735. ISSN 2072-4292.
  21. ^ Buławka, N., Orengo, H. A. (2024). "Application of multi-temporal and multisource satellite imagery in the study of irrigated landscapes in arid climates". Remote Sensing. 16 (11): 1997. doi:10.3390/rs16111997.
  22. ^ Corradino, Claudia; Bilotta, Giuseppe; Cappello, Annalisa; Fortuna, Luigi; Del Negro, Ciro (2021). "Combining Radar and Optical Satellite Imagery with Machine Learning to Map Lava Flows at Mount Etna and Fogo Island". Energies. 14 (1): 197. doi:10.3390/en14010197.
  23. ^ "Sentinel Monitoring". Sentinel Hub/Sinergise. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  24. ^ "Sentinel-2 MSI: Product Types". European Space Agency. Retrieved 17 June 2015.