The ocean-observing Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Nov. 21, 2020 at 12:17 p.m. EST (9:17 a.m. PST, 5:17 p.m. UTC).
The satellite will collect data on sea level and how it changes over time. By measuring sea surface height, scientists worldwide can monitor sea level rise, track climate patterns, improve hurricane forecasts, and monitor and understand ocean currents.
The satellite is jointly developed by ESA (European Space Agency), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding support from the European Commission.
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is named in honor of the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division, who was instrumental in advancing space-based ocean measurements.