|Mission type||Oceanography mission|
|Operator||EUMETSAT / NASA|
|Mission duration||5.5 years (planned)|
2 years, 8 months and 23 days (in progress)
|Manufacturer||Airbus Defence and Space|
|Launch mass||1,192 kg (2,628 lb)|
|Dimensions||5.13 x 4.17 x 2.34 metres|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||21 November 2020,|
|Rocket||Falcon 9 Block 5|
|Launch site||Vandenberg, SLC-4E|
|Entered service||21 June 2021 |
|Reference system||Geocentric orbit|
|Regime||Low Earth orbit|
|Altitude||1,336 km (830 mi)|
|Repeat interval||10 days|
Logo of the Sentinel-6 programme
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (S6MF) is a radar altimeter satellite developed in partnership between several European and American organizations. It is part of the Jason satellite series and is named after Michael Freilich. S6MF includes synthetic-aperture radar altimetry techniques to improve ocean topography measurements, in addition to rivers and lakes. The spacecraft entered service in mid 2021 and is expected to operate for 5.5 years.
The Sentinel-6 program includes two identical satellites, to be launched five years apart, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, which launched on 21 November 2020, and Sentinel-6B, which will launch in 2025. These satellites will measure sea level change from space, which have been measured without interruption since 1992.
Formerly called Sentinel-6A and Jason-CS A (Jason Continuity of Service-A), it was renamed in honor of the former director of NASA Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich, who was instrumental in advancing space-based ocean measurements. It follows the most recent U.S.-European sea level observation satellite, Jason-3, which launched in 2016, and is currently providing high-precision and timely observations of the topography of the global ocean.
Since the launch of TOPEX/Poseidon on 10 August 1992, high-precision satellite altimeters have been essential to monitor how the ocean stores and redistributes heat, water, and carbon in the climate system. The two satellites, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and Sentinel-6B, will extend this legacy through to at least 2030, which will provide a nearly forty-year record of sea level rise as well as changes in ocean currents.
The Sentinel-6 was developed by European Space Agency (ESA) in the context of the European Copernicus Programme led by the European Commission, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding support from the European Commission and technical support from France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES, Centre national d'études spatiales).
The Sentinel-6 mission is part of the Copernicus programme initiative, the main objective of the Sentinel-6 mission is to measure sea surface topography with high accuracy and reliability to support ocean forecasting systems, environmental monitoring and climate monitoring.
The mission definition is driven by the need for continuity in provision of TOPEX/Poseidon mission and Jason satellite series (Jason-1, OSTM/Jason-2, and Jason-3) with improvements in instrument performance and coverage. ESA, NASA, and EUMETSAT will provide mission management and system engineering support. EUMETSAT and NASA will be responsible for long-term archives of altimetry data products. All partners will be involved with the selection of science investigators.