UPDATE 1-European satellite blasts off to provide new color view of Earth

lunes 22 de junio de 2015 23:19 GYT

(Updates with launch; changes dateline and byline)

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla, June 22 (Reuters) - An unmanned Vega rocket blasted off from French Guiana on Monday to put a sophisticated Earth-watching satellite into orbit, a European Space Agency webcast showed.

Flying for the fifth time, the four-stage Vega rocket, lifted off at 9:52 p.m. EDT (0152 GMT) carrying Europe's Sentinel-2A satellite, the newest member of the multibillion-euro Copernicus Earth-observation project.

From its orbital perch 488 miles (786 km) above Earth, Sentinel-2A is designed to take high-resolution, color and infrared images for a wide array of environmental initiatives, including crop forecasting and monitoring natural disasters.

The first satellite of Europe's planned seven-member network launched in April 2014. Sentinel-1A is outfitted with radars that can monitor sea ice, oil spills and land use, even when skies are cloudy.

Sentinel-2A will operate in tandem with another satellite, to be launched in late 2016, carrying high-tech imaging equipment that can capture a wider range of colors than other Earth imaging spacecraft, such as France's Spot 5 or the U.S. Landsat satellites.

"We have not just all the colors that are visible, but also infrared, which is very good for monitoring vegetation," Volker Liebig, director of ESA's Earth Observation program, told Reuters.

Sentinel-2A is designed to capture 180-mile (290-km) swaths of Earth and revisit the same point on the planet every 10 days, providing more up-to-date images and at higher resolution than have been available previously.   Continuación...