The European Space Agency's (ESA's) Envisat environmental monitoring satellite was launched on 28 February by the Ariane 5 from Kourou, French Guiana. The 8.2t satellite is the largest and heaviest European spacecraft so far, and carries 10 sensors for atmospheric, oceanographic and environmental observations.

The launch saw the return into service of the Ariane 5, which has been grounded since July when it stranded two communications satellites in the wrong orbit.

The Astrium-built Envisat is in a sun-synchronous polar orbit, covering all the earth's surface, and passing over each point at the same local time every day.

Source: Flight International