The payload will be the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, which is the latest in a series of satellites that have provided critical data about sea level rise and climate change for nearly three decades. Sentinel-1 is providing radar imaging measurements of ocean swell waves, of sea ice.
The satellite, named Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, will work with the Jason-3 satellite, which was launched in 2016, to measure sea level for more than 90% of the world's oceans.
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich team members from the European Space Agency examine the spacecraft in the processing room at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
"If you measure it at sea level, you have one measurement device in Amsterdam and you have a different one in Bangkok and yet another one in Miami", Aschbacher told The Associated Press by video from ESA offices in Frascati, Italy. "Sentinel-2 provides high resolution measurements in the coastal zone", Donlon said.
JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, built three science instruments for each Sentinel-6 satellite: the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System - Radio Occultation, and the Laser Retroreflector Array.
Its most powerful weapon is the Poseidon-4 radar altimeter, named after the trident-wielding Greek god of the sea. The Sentinel-6 is the first of two identical satellites to head into Earth's orbit five years apart to continue sea level observations for at least the next decade.
" This failure on Monday reminded us how risky the space business is", Aschbacher said.
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the latest in a series of spacecraft created to monitor the Earth's oceans. "I'm very sorry personally that he can not push the button tomorrow".
It's the first time that another space agency has been involved in ESA's flagship Copernicus program, which already has seven satellites in orbit measuring the seas, atmosphere and land. NASA says it will provide crucial information for operational oceanography, marine meteorology, and climate studies. "We are discussing right now other options of cooperation based on the model of Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich".
The two space agencies recently agreed to cooperate on a planned NASA outpost around the moon.
But Aschbacher said missions to Earth's neighbour, and others looking to Mars and beyond, shouldn't divert attention from the need to keep an eye on our own planet.