Copernicus Sentinel-2

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission is a two-satellite mission designed specifically to deliver the wealth of data and imagery that are central to the European Commission’s Copernicus programme. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission is based on a constellation of two identical satellites in the same orbit. Each satellite carries an innovative wide swath high-resolution multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands for a new perspective of our land and vegetation. 
The mission objectives include providing operational continuity for the SPOT and Landsat missions, providing data for services such as forest monitoring, land cover changes detection, and natural disasters management.

Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015 and Sentinel-2B followed on 7 March 2017, both on a Vega launch vehicle from Europe's Spaceport located in French Guiana. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission is part of the European Union’s Copernicus Programme which is aimed at providing accurate and timely information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. It is construed in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), providing the definition and the development of the space- and ground-based system elements. The mission provides high-resolution optical imagery for land monitoring purposes. The data from Sentinel-2 is used for applications such as agriculture, forestry, land use change detection, water quality monitoring, and disaster management.

The Sentinel-2 satellites each carry a single multi-spectral instrument (MSI) with 13 spectral channels in the visible/near infrared (VNIR) and short wave infrared spectral range (SWIR). The MSI is a set of passive optical sensors that capture light reflected by Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

The satellites have a nominal lifetime of about 7.25 years, with a possible 2-year extension. After that, they will be decomissioned. In order to ensure continuity of the mission, two follow-on satellites are being developed: Sentinel-2C is currently undergoing testing and is expected to launch in 2024. Sentinel-2D's launch is planned for 2025. 

Liftoff of Sentinel-2B on a Vega launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 01:49 GMT (02:49 CET) on 7 March 2017.

Liftoff of Sentinel-2B on a Vega launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 01:49 GMT (02:49 CET) on 7 March 2017.

Sentinel-2 constellation

Satellite Sentinel-2A Sentinel-2B Sentinel-2C Sentinel-2D
Launch Date 23 June 2015 7 March 2017 2024 2025
End Date        
Status Operational Operational Planned Planned
Orbit type Polar, sun-synchronous
Altitude 786 km
Orbit inclination 98.62°
Orbit period 100.6 minutes


More on Copernicus

The Copernicus Programme is an Earth observation initiative that forms a crucial part of the European Union Space Programme. Managed by the European Commission in collaboration with various European organizations such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the  European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Copernicus aims to establish a comprehensive Earth observation capacity that is global, continuous, autonomous, and of high quality. The primary objective of the programme is to provide accurate, timely, and easily accessible information to improve environmental management, understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change, and ensure civil security.

Click here to visit our dedicated Copernicus page