In order to give you a better service Airbus uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies I agree

A driving force for Copernicus

A driving force for Copernicus

A global monitoring programme

Copernicus comprises an ‘in-situ’ measurement component and a ‘services’ component addressing six specific topics: oceans, atmosphere, climate change, land, security and emergency management.

All starts with Sentinels

A representation of an Airbus-produced Sentinel-series Earth observation satellite in orbit.

Airbus plays a crucial role in constructing the Sentinel satellites and their instruments:

  • developing and building the radar instrument for Sentinel-1
  • prime contractor for Sentinel-2 and a spectral mode observations instrument
  • designing and building the microwave radiometer (MWR) on board Sentinel-3
  • designing and building the satellite and instrument for Sentinel-5 Precursor?(5P)
  • prime contractor for the two spectrometers on Sentinel-4
  • prime contractor for the Sentinel-5 imaging spectrometer
  • prime contractor for Jason-CS/ Sentinel-6

More about the Sentinels


The twin Sentinel-1 satellites are designed to provide radar-based Earth observation imagery and will supply data of significantly higher quality than its predecessor missions.

The first satellite, Sentinel-1A, was successfully launched in April 2014, to be followed in 2016 by the second satellite, Sentinel-1B.


Airbus is prime contractor for this 2 satellites mission.

The extracted data will be used primarily for monitoring natural disasters (floods, forest fires, landslides, erosion) and in the fields of land use, soil sealing, spatial planning, forestry management and humanitarian aid and as well as for coastal monitoring.


Sentinel-3 is dedicated to oceanography and the monitoring of vegetation.

Sentinel-3 will be equipped with up to four instruments. Airbus has been selected to supply one of these instruments, called the Microwave Radiometer, to determine the amount of humidity contained in the path of the radar pulses, as well as a number of satellite subsystems for this mission.


Airbus is the prime contractor for the development and construction of the two spectrometers for the Sentinel-4 mission.

The Sentinel-4 mission will concentrate on services such as analysing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and monitoring air quality. Its main task is to measure concentrations of aerosols, trace gases and cloud cover in the lower troposphere.

Sentinel-5 Precursor

Sentinel-5 Precursor (Sentinel-5P) will be the first satellite dedicated to monitoring atmospheric chemistry for the Copernicus programme. Airbus is the prime contractor for the satellite.

It will ensure there is continuity of data to monitor the ozone hole and tropospheric pollution as current climate monitoring missions come to the end of their lives. Sentinel-5P will fill the gap between current atmospheric capabilities from low polar orbit and the launch of Sentinel-5 which is envisaged for around 2021.


The high-precision Sentinel-5 instrument will be developed and constructed by the prime contractor Airbus.

The instrument will monitor the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere globally on a daily basis by taking measurements of trace gases and aerosols that have an impact on the climate and air quality. Sentinel-5 will be installed on a MetOP Second Generation (MetOP-SG) satellite and fly in a roughly 800 kilometre polar orbit around the Earth.


Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 for which Airbus is prime contractor to ESA, is a mission to carry out high-precision measurements of ocean surface topography.

The satellite will measure its distance to the ocean surface with an accuracy of a few centimetres and use this data to map the topography globally, repeating the cycle every ten days. The measurements made are vital for modelling the oceans and predicting rises in sea levels.

Go further

The Sentinel satellites benefit from the SpaceDataHighway?services provided by Airbus. The Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites are equipped with laser communication terminals that will significantly accelerate the delivery of time-critical data and large volumes of data to Earth monitoring centres.


CRISTAL artist view    
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich shipment    
 Sentinel-2A satellite    
Great Barrier Reef image from Sentinel-2A satellite    
Central Eastern Brazil image from Sentinel-2A satellite    
Sentinel 2A    
Sentinel 2 Infographic    
Sentinel 6A In The Reverberation Chamber    
Sentinel 6 Infographic    
Sentinel 6A Acoustic Noise Test    
Sentinel 6 Infographic 9x16    
Airbus engineer testing ocean satellite Sentinel-6A’s    
Airbus engineer testing ocean satellite Sentinel-6A’s    
Copernicus Masters    
Copernicus Masters    
Airbus Sentinels    
Copernicus C Airbus 1    
Sentinel-5p - Overview    
Sentinel-5p - Function    
Sentinel-5p - Airbus Contribution    
Copernicus and Sentinels Infographic ES    
Copernicus and Sentinels Infographic FR    
Copernicus and Sentinels Infographic DE    
Copernicus and Sentinels Infographic EN    
Copernicus And Sentinels Infographic    
Meet us at ILA 2016 in Berlin      
Airbus Defence and Space, a driving force for Copernicus      
Climate monitoring missions      
MetOp-SG - Meteorological data across the entire globe      
Airbus Defence and Space, a driving force for Copernicus      
Sentinel-1 - "Radar Vision"      

Earth observation



SSOT - FaSat



Capacity building

ESA preferred partner

Tomorrow’s Weather and Future Climate

Back to top