We have been talking about the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich—aka. the "golden house" satellite—due to its shiny appearance for quite some time now. The satellite is meant to undertake a five-and-a-half-year journey to collect the most accurate data yet on global sea levels and how our oceans are changing and rising in response to climate change.
It's particularly exciting because it is a highly successful U.S.-European partnership but also because it was named after famed Dr. Michael Freilich, the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division and a dedicated advocate for advancing satellite measurements of the oceans. Initially, it was set to be launched on November 10 but was delayed till November 21.
Deployment of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich confirmed pic.twitter.com/1ZsiSOyeaj— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 21, 2020
It was finally successfully launched this Saturday at 9:17 a.m. EST from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The announcement of the launch came with a warning that some sonic booms may be heard.
"Upon the re-entry of the vehicle, spectators and local residents from Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties can anticipate to hear multiple sonic booms, as the vehicle breaks the sound barrier," said a statement from Vandenberg.
"A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves from an aircraft or launch vehicle traveling faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate a sound similar to an explosion or a clap of thunder. The sonic boom experienced will depend on weather conditions and other factors."
Now, that the satellite has been sent into Space with a boom, it will wait for its twin satellite to come compliment its work in five years' time. This satellite is called Sentinel-6B and is slated for liftoff in 2025. Together, these two satellites will measure sea levels down to a few centimeters for 90% of the world's oceans.