The European Space Agency's (ESA) ERS 2 remote-sensing satellite was safely placed into a 770 x 797km, Sun-synchronous polar orbit on 21 April, after launch by an Ariane 40 from Kourou.

Following a three-month commissioning phase, the ERS 2 - which has a predicted operational lifetime of 30 months - will operate in tandem with the ERS 1, which was launched in July 1991 (Flight International, 22-28 March).

Two of the instruments aboard the $420 million ERS 2 are from the UK. The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's Along Track Scanning Radiometer, ATSR 2, monitors sea-surface temperature and carries an extra channel to monitor the world's vegetation.

The Matra Marconi Space-led Active Microwave Instrument, built at Portsmouth, operates as a synthetic-aperature radar and a wind scatter-o-meter. The ERS 2 carries a Global Oxone Monitoring Experiment as an extra.

Alenia Spazio provided the radar altimeter and Officine Galileo built the global ozone monitoring experiment. A precise range and radar experiment was supplied by Germany's Stuttgart Navigation Institute.

The spacecraft launched on Ariane mission V72, was built by Daimler-Benz Aerospace with components from Laben, Fokker and Aerospatiale.

Source: Flight International