Just five weeks after the launch of the ESA satellite Sentinel-3A on 16 February 2016, over 8000 data sets from the Sentinel-3A Ocean and Land Colour Instrument have been stored in a long-term archive at DLR’s Earth Observation Center. This data quantity exceeds 6000 gigabytes or six terabytes.
On behalf of ESA, EOC operates a PAC, a Processing and Archiving Centre, for data from Sentinel-1 and from the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) on Sentinel-3. Last year already more than a million gigabytes of Sentinel-1A scenes were processed and archived, and now up to 300 terabytes from the OLCI instrument on Sentinel-3 will arrive each year in addition.
The first data received via the Copernicus-Wide Area Network (WAN) and processed into value-added products were archived already in early March by EOC. Some of the recordings from 29 February show frozen Hudson Bay in northern Canada, the snow-covered landscape of the Great Lakes, and the extensive agricultural land of the US Midwest. The images shown here are only interim image products since the satellite is presently in its so-called commissioning phase. In this five-month start-up period the satellite and its instruments are tested and readied for routine operation.
Data from the OLCI instrument on Sentinel-3A can be used to monitor systematically, continuously, and for large areas the state of vegetation, snow, and ice cover on the land surface, the amount of suspended matter and phytoplankton in the oceans, and ocean ice cover. At the end of 2017 with the final constellation of two Sentinel-3 satellites, global coverage will be possible every two days, thanks to the high aerial coverage made possible by the satellites’ 1270 kilometre swath width. It also means that heavily overcast regions can be regularly recorded.
Besides the ESA PACs, EOC operates the German Satellite Data Archive DSDA, which currently has a capacity of 50 petabytes. Data from national, European and international missions can be stored here for decades and made available for retrospective long-term study and comparisons to analyse and understand the changes under way in Earth’s ecosystem.
"With the first-class, mid-resolution data from the OLCI instrument on Sentinel-3 the staff at EOC will also be able to address many environmental and climate issues, in addition to their responsibilities as an ESA PAC. Particularly what is happening to Planet Earth as a result of climate change will have objective and trustworthy documentation because of OLCI ", states Stefan Dech, director of DLR‘s EOC.