How to Watch Today's SpaceX Sentinel-6 Launch

Joint NASA-ESA Satellite Which Will Monitor Sea Levels to Launch Saturday

The U.S. space agency, NASA, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), is set to launch a satellite Saturday created to monitor rising sea levels, the latest in a series of orbiting spacecraft monitoring the status of the world's oceans.

With spectators filling Lompoc Valley viewing sites, a Falcon 9 rocket roared to life Saturday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base en route to delivering NASA newest ocean-monitoring satellite to space.

"Our Earth is a system of intricately connected dynamics between land, ocean, ice, atmosphere and also of course our human communities, and that system is changing", Karen St. Germain, NASA's Earth Science Division director, said in a pre-launch briefing Friday. You can watch the live coverage on NASA's public channel and NASA's youtube channel.

In addition to helping scientists keep long-term records of sea-level rise, Sentinel-6 data will also help scientists more accurately model and predict weather patterns. Sea levels were rising at the rate of about two millimeters per year in the 1990s, said Josh Willis, project scientist for the mission at JPL, but are now increasing at four to five millimeters per year. The island lost about 255 billion tons of ice on average per year during this period.

"Because 70 percent of earth's surface is covered by the ocean, we're literally watching the shape of the planet change before our very eyes", Willis said.

Individuals living in coastal communities or navigating treacherous waters will both advantage from information moving from the new Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite mission.

Technically, Sentinel-6 is a step forward.

While NASA has been using satellites to measure the height of the ocean for the last 28 years, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is slated to offer greater precision than ever before.

Falcon 9 rocket carrying Copernicus Sentinel-6.

As scientists look to accurate results from Sentinel-6, launch teams are working to stay safe amid the latest pandemic protocols such as checking temperature while entering buildings, and physical distance between workers and quarantines after travel.

Together with our worldwide and interagency partners, we're monitoring the causes of sea level rise with high accuracy and precision. Even worse, he added, for every centimeter of sea level rise, up to three million other people around the world are exposed to flood risks.

That satellite data has shown that sea levels are not only rising, but also that the rate of increase is accelerating. While space satellites have been tracking this in detail for 30 years, the roots of this problem begin in the Industrial Revolution, when nations began burning huge reserves of carbon through coal, oil and other natural resources to power their economies. He said that while the team can not dine in restaurants as usual, they still do team building activities such as outdoor patio meetings and shared exercises, as well as outdoors.

"It's a critical observation for a number of reasons, but its power is really unleashed when we combine our altimetry observations of the sea surface height measurements with the observations we get from the other satellites in the NASA fleet and the worldwide fleet", she continued.

Morale remains high among the group and Dunn said he is proud of all the adjustments that his colleagues are making.

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