July 7, 2020


The Sentinel-6 A Michael Freilich and Sentinel-6 B satellites are composed of:

  • A CryoSat type platform which has evolved to suit satellites weighing approximately 1400 kg when launched.

  • A payload with the following main instruments:

    • A Poseidon-4 radar altimeter, measuring the distance between the satellite and the sea surface, and used to perform precise corrections in relation to the signal trajectory in the ionosphere. It is a heritage from CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3. It will work in "Interleaved" SAR + LRM mode with a digital architecture.
    • An AMR-C (improved Advanced Microwave Radiometer), designed to identify the water content in the troposphere (JPL/NASA contribution). It is an improved AMR from Jason-2/3 (Climate Quality).
    • A DORIS receiver used for precise orbit determination. It is a DGXXS model (improved DGXX, following CryoSat-2's experience), heritage of Jason-3.
    • A GNSS-POD Receiver (GPS Payload), in addition to DORIS, to calculate satellite positioning. It is the same instrument as the Sentinel-3b GNSS Receiver, extended to 12 channels.
    • A GNSS-RO Receiver (GPS Payload), (JPL/NASA contribution). It is a TriG Receiver, heritage of COSMIC-2.
    • An LRA (Laser Retroreflector Array) instrument used for the precise calibration of other instruments by the analysis of laser pulses emitted from the ground and reflected on board by an array of mirrors (JPL/NASA contribution). It is the same as the one on Jason-2/3.


Instruments' location on the Sentinel-6 satellite
Credits: Airbus Defence & Space

Main characteristics of the Sentinel-6 satellite
Mass1420 kg (including 220 kg fuel)
Power864 W
S-Band telemetry32 kbits/s for telemetry,
16 kbits/s for telecommand
X-Band telemetry150 Mbits/s for payload telemetry
Mission lifetime5.5 (+2) years

NASA has selected three possible launchers for Sentinel-6: Falcon 9, Antares and Atlas V (401); the first satellite should be launched in 2020.