Sentinel-1A is the first of a constellation of two satellites, with 1B planned to join it in orbit in 2016. Together, they will monitor all tectonically and volcanically active areas of the planet, with their data being made freely available to the whole Earth observation community.
You can see Sentinel-1A in action in this ESA video:
Sentinel-1A has already provided valuable scientific results – helping us map the fault that caused an estimated $1 billion of damage to the wine industry in the Napa Valley of California in August 2014.
This ESA animation shows how, when Sentinel-1B becomes operational in 2016, the two satellites will cover the entire planet every six days.
We are building an automatic processing system to handle the vast quantities of radar data from Sentinel-1. We will use the many thousands of images that Sentinel-1 produces every year to map ground movements with extraordinary accuracy, detecting ground movements as small as 1mm/yr between two points separated by as much as 100 km.
As well as measuring rates of ground movement, we will also be looking at how these rates change over time. Near volcanoes, such changes can suggest activity below the Earth’s surface. The data will also help us understand more about the outer layer of the Earth, which will in turn will help us to build better models of how the continents deform.
Importantly, it will mean that we can respond in near-real time to eruption and earthquakes across the globe, and provide information on our website as quickly as possible.