A second satellite aimed at tackling environmental disasters and responding to emergency situations has been launched.
It is part of the European Commission’s Earth observation programme “Copernicus”.
Called the ‘Sentinel-2a’, the satellite was sent into orbit on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana a year after the first one.
The addition of the second satellite will allow Copernicus to deliver images of Earth’s changing land “with a high level of detail and accuracy”, the Commission said.
EU citizens and businesses have free, full and open access to the data which can be used to manage and protect the environment and natural resources and tackle climate change.
It can also help in responding to emergency situations – both man-made accidents and natural disasters such as flooding and landslides.
In the recent earthquake in Nepal, the combination of the pictures acquired before and after the quake by the Copernicus satellite helped local relief efforts target their resources.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said: “Copernicus provides more precise and reliable information about our environment and European citizens’ security and the availability of full, free and open satellite observation data is already today allowing innovative entrepreneurs to create new applications and services in Europe.”
Studies suggest Copernicus – which by 2021 will include six satellites – could generate a financial benefit of around €30 billion (£21.4bn) and create 50,000 jobs in Europe by 2030.