Copernicus Earth monitoring program - a great success due also to the contribution by the team at Jena

On 25 April 2018 the Sentinel-3B, built by Thales Alenia Space was launched as part of the European Copernicus earth monitoring program with technology supplied by the aerospace company Jena-Optronik GmbH and is sending its first images.


Although the use of Earth monitoring data from space has still not yet reached its full potential, it has already shown its importance in a wide range of applications such as agriculture and forestry, the insurance industry, energy industry, urban development, the fishing industry and climatology.

The European Union (EU) Copernicus program largely contributed to this, as the data are freely and openly accessible to its users. The program, co-funded by EU and the European Space Agency (ESA), is coordinated and managed by the European Commission and implemented, for what concerns the Space Segment, by ESA and their member states. The ‘Sentinel’ – satellites, developed and build by the European aerospace sector, supply earth monitoring data of better quality and scope.

Sentinel-3 satellites play a central role in the Copernicus program with respect to monitoring oceans. The data acquired assist, for example, in the forecasting the stages of algal bloom. The use of this forecasting data alone has increased productivity in the fishing industry by five percent according to an EU study. 

Jena-Optronik has proven its leading position as a supplier of top technology in monitoring the earth from space by successfully developing and building some of the main components for the Sentinel-3 Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR). 

SLSTR is one of the two main optical instruments mounted on Sentinel-3 Satellites, contracted by ESA to Thales Alenia Space in France. It measures the temperature of the oceans and land surfaces. Jena-Optronik is part of the core team that developed and realized the SLSTR payload, guided by the prime contractor Leonardo (Italy). The Thuringian company is responsible for the mounting structure of the instrument where the optical equipment components and mechanisms are integrated. All equipment components and mechanisms as well as the structure itself must meet extremely high standards in regard to stability, performance and durability.

‘Complex projects such as the Sentinel-3 satellite only succeed when all those involved from end user to supplier work together in a results-orientated team and with mutual trust. We would like to thank Leonardo in Italy and Thales Alenia Space in France as well as ESA for their great trust and the good teamwork in the project’ says Dr. Reinhard Berger, head of Projects and Programs at Jena-Optronik GmbH. ‘The excellent data from the Sentinel-3A satellite launched in 2016 confirms the success of this cooperation. We are proud to have made such an important contribution and we are convinced that the twin satellite Sentinel -3B will prove to be of equal quality after the first images have been reviewed.’

The project is an important pillar of growth at Jena-Optronik and has contributed to creating and protecting many high-quality jobs in the Jena aerospace company.

‘We concluded our work on this mission in 2016 and the great effort has already faded somewhat into the background as new tasks and challenges have arisen. The greatest reward would be for the second instrument to work at the same high level as the first one. The launch of the satellite is also inspiration for the two additional instruments currently being built’, states Wolfgang Engel, Sentinel-3 project manager at Jena-Optronik GmbH.

The EU has also commissioned studies via ESA on six new Sentinel mission types to continue the Copernicus program once the currently planned Sentinel constellation has been completed. The Copernicus success story continues.


* Source: European Commission „Ocean Monitoring“, published February 2017 [retrieved 09.03.2018]


First Images taken by Sentinel-3B can be found here.


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