The US space agency was all set to launch a satellite to monitor global sea level on Saturday. Called Sentinel-6, the satellite will continue NASA’s three-decades-long work to document rising sea levels. The satellite will be followed in 2025 by its twin, Sentinel-6B.
“Together, the pair is tasked with extending our nearly 30-year-long record of global sea surface height measurements. Instruments aboard the satellites will also provide atmospheric data that will improve weather forecasts, climate models, and hurricane tracking,” NASA said in a statement late on Friday.
Named after former NASA Earth Science Division Director Michael Freilich, the US-European satellite was scheduled to be carried into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
With satellites, airborne missions, shipboard measurements, and supercomputers, NASA has been investigating sea-level rise for decades. Together with our international and interagency partners, we’re monitoring the causes of sea-level rise with high accuracy and precision.
The global sea level is rising approximately 0.13 inches (3.3 millimeters) a year. That’s 30 percent more than when NASA launched its first satellite mission to measure ocean heights in 1992.
“We’re united by this big goal,” said Nadya Vinogradova Shiffer, the NASA program manager who oversees the team. “Sea level is impacted by these different factors that one discipline doesn’t cover – so we’ve got to bring in experts to approach it from all angles.”