In the early hours of 1 March 2002, the largest Earth observation satellite ever built soared into orbit from ESA’s launch base in Kourou, French Guiana. For a decade, Envisat has been keeping watch over our planet.The eight-tonne satellite has doubled its planned five-year lifetime, circling Earth more than 50 000 times.With ten sophisticated optical and radar sensors, the satellite is continuously observing and monitoring Earth’s land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps. An estimated 2000 scientific publications have been based on this information.Envisat’s largest instrument is the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar, which can be used day or night because it sees through clouds and darkness. This is particularly useful over polar regions, which are prone to long periods of bad weather and extended darkness.
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