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On Monday night, I had the enormous pleasure to witness the launch of Sentinel-2B, fifth of the Sentinel satellites of the Copernicus programme, from ESA’s Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt. I had been selected by ESA together with 100 other social media participants from across Europe and beyond… (28 countries in total were represented) to attend the #Sentinel2Go SocialSpace event taking place in conjunction with liftoff in Kourou. The profiles of attendees (or shall I say “ #Sentinerds “ ! ) were very diversified: from the usual EO suspects to cardiologists, teachers or even fashion blogger! The importance wasn’t their knowledge of the subject but their enthusiasm around Earth observation and space in general.

On the left: EARSC members presenting / On the right: Group picture of the #Sentinel2Go participants

The day was very well organized to make the most out of our visit at ESOC. We started by a tour of the ESOC facilities, where enthusiastic engineers and scientists gave us a flavor of their daily job. It comprised not only of EO activities but also space debris or interplanetary mission control. We then had the opportunity to exchange more with the experts, take the traditional group picture and have dinner in a nice German restaurant.

After dinner, we had the pre-launch briefing, the opportunity to watch a movie or socialize with our neighbours and a live electronic music performance by Fabrica to overcome tiredness!

We then changed room to join the official guests, EC and ESA EO experts, Copernicus users and traditional press gathered for the official event which can be watched at this link: Before launch, experts and users of Sentinel data were invited to exchange around 4 themes: ‘Land and food security’, ‘Space technology, operations and business trends’, ‘Sea and coastal areas’ and ‘Cities and society’. It was great to see EARSC members presenting in each of these corners and explaining how they were using the data. Everyone celebrated the successful launch of Sentinel-2B. The importance of Copernicus data and the potential of new applications coming from it were emphasised.

Live tweeting during this very interactive event wasn’t an easy exercise as excitement, fatigue and noise combined! It was a first for ESOC to organise such an event around a launch (especially an early morning one!), and according to the first returns – journalists using videos or posts from the “Sentinerds”- it was a big success! 




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