On November 12, Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy started erupting with lava flows and ash clouds. The European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission was able to capture these lava bursts using infrared technology.
The European Space Agency’s Sentinel program consists of eight satellites that were launched between 2014 and 2020. These satellites constantly monitor Earth’s surface and provide data on weather conditions, ocean conditions, surface ice, and air quality.
Sentinel-2, specifically, focuses on studying Earth’s land, such as forests and farms, to analyze how different regions change over time and in response to human activities. It is made up of two satellites, Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-2B, which are positioned in an orbit that crosses over Earth’s poles and are on opposing points of the world.
By monitoring Mount Etna in infrared, these satellites were able to detect evidence of lava flowing down its slopes. Additionally, they can detect mudslides, ground fissures, earthquakes, and other ground activities, as well as aerosols in the atmosphere released during the eruption.
Monitoring Mount Etna is crucial because it is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and frequently releases lava and ash clouds. It is also located in a densely populated area of Europe, with the city of Catania at its base, which is home to over a million inhabitants. While the present eruption has not posed a threat to the city, it often disrupts airport traffic in Catania.
The European Space Agency’s Sentinel program provides valuable information about the volcano’s activity, aiding in the monitoring and understanding of volcanic eruptions.