The next satellite tasked with maintaining the "gold standard" measurement of sea-level rise is about to enter final testing.
Sentinel-6a will pick up from the long-running Jason series of spacecraft when it launches in November 2020.
These missions track the height and shape of Earth's oceans with microwave altimeters.
Since 1992, the orbiting instruments have observed sea level go up by an average of 3.2mm per year.
This trend is accelerating, however. The most recent five-year period, from 2014 to 2019, has witnessed a 4.8mm/yr increase.
Sentinel-6a marks the first time this hugely important mission series will fly under the badge of the EU's Copernicus Earth observation programme.
It is still a joint venture between Europe (principally France) and the US, but the Copernicus patronage gives longterm security of financing.
In the past, there was always a little uncertainty over where the funding would come from to initiate the next iteration of spacecraft.
Now, not only is Sentinel-6a entering testing but its follow-on, Sentinel-6b, has all its money in place with construction due to begin in 2021.
Read More At The BBC
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