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Russia launches sixth European environmental observation satellite

The latest European Sentinel satellite went into orbit after taking off from Russia. It will provide data to help emergency services manage their response to natural disasters.

Russia on Friday launched the latest Sentinel satellite for the Copernicus initiative, a multi-billion-euro joint project of the European Union and European Space Agency (ESA) to monitor the earth's atmosphere.

The ESA's Sentinel-5P satellite was launched in a Russian Rokot missile from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome launch pad in the Arkhangelsk region in northwestern Russia.

  "The Sentinel-5P satellite is now safely in orbit so it is up to our mission control teams to steer this mission into its operational life and maintain it for the next seven years or more," ESA Director General Jan Woerner said.

ESA Sentinel Satelitte

The ESA's Sentinel-5P satellite was launched in a Rokot in northwestern Russia

Once operational, the 820-kilogram (1,808-pound) satellite will use state-of-the-art technology to monitor air pollution, UV radiation, and atmospheric gases such as nitrogen dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide that can contribute to climate change and ozone depletion.

Staring down at the earth at a height of 824 kilometers (512 miles), the satellite will also be able to identify the worst-affected areas of environmental disasters to help emergency services respond more effectively.

Read more: The amazing things Sentinel satellites see

A multi-billion euro effort

It is the sixth Sentinel satellite to be launched since April 2014. The other five satellites track changes in the earth's oceans and land via advanced radar and optical imagery technology.

In total, the EU and the ESA have promised to spend €8 billion ($9.5 billion) on the Copernicus program, previously known as the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GEMS) initiative, until 2020.

The program's namesake, Nicolaus Copernicus, was a sixteenth-century Polish astronomer who first concluded that the Earth orbited the sun at a time when many believed the opposite to be true.

amp/ng (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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