Sentinel 3 - Scientific Software Support
The Sentinel 3 launch was very beautiful, but the science always has our hearts here at S[&]T! And good news - the science has officially begun!
ESA has just released the First Science images from one of the instruments onboard Sentinel 3. Commissioning is a key development in the mission. After launch and a series of satellite level tests, each of the instruments come online and the raw data is checked for quality, then the data is processed from 0's and 1's to science-ready products that are free for use by the scientific community.
S[&]T'er Bouwe Andela helps ensure that science products from the optical instruments onboard are available to the user community while satellite commissioning transitions the mission from launch to scientific operations. These instruments provide, among many other measurements, insights into the status of vegetation and algae, land and ocean surface temperatures, and aerosol loading (smoke, dust and haze) in the atmosphere.
Sentinel 3 is just starting its in-flight calibration phase, during which the scientific specifications are checked. This phase is exciting, because the instruments are actively producing their first real measurements while looking down at the Earth from space. In-flight calibration occurs during set periods of the time when sensors are not in use for scientific measurements, and sensor usage for calibration must be finished by the time they are required again for operations. These set periods of time for in-flight calibration are different for each instrument; for instance, if the sensors inside are measuring reflected sunlight, then they tend to calibrate during periods when the satellite orbit takes it to the opposite side of the Earth, where it is too dark for standard measurements.
S[&]T'er Bouwe Andela joined the company working on the TROPOMI instrument calibration campaign for Sentinel 5p. Now, for Sentinel 3, he ensures that 'level 1' data is available from the Ocean and Land Color Instrument (OLCI) and Sea Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) instruments during commissioning. He also provides access to Synergy data, which is a combination of information from the two instruments. Level 1 processing indicates the physical values (Color, Temperature, Brightness etc.) as translated from the initial instrument data. This is the first step towards scientific modelling and use of these instruments, and is essential to ensuring that the scientific community is able to depend on the baseline information they receive from Sentinel 3.
Congratulations to Bouwe for his contributions to Sentinel 3! We are looking forward to where the science takes us!