The European Space Agency (ESA) is developing six families of Sentinel satellite missions specifically designed for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The Sentinels provide high-resolution radar and optical images of our planet and will continue to do so in the future.

Sentinel-1 is a polar-orbiting, all-weather, day-and-night radar imaging mission for land and ocean services. Sentinel-1A was launched on 3 April 2014 and Sentinel-1B on 25 April 2016.

Sentinel-2 is a polar-orbiting, multispectral high-resolution imaging mission for land monitoring to provide, for example, imagery of vegetation, soil and water cover, inland waterways and coastal areas. Sentinel-2 can also deliver information for emergency services. Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015 and Sentinel-2B on 7 March 2017.

Sentinel-3 is a multi-instrument mission to measure sea-surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, ocean colour and land colour with high-end accuracy and reliability. The mission supports ocean forecasting systems, as well as environmental and climate monitoring. Sentinel-3A was launched on 16 February 2016 and Sentinel-3B on 25 April 2018.

Sentinel-4 is a payload devoted to atmospheric monitoring that will be embarked upon a Meteosat Third Generation-Sounder (MTG-S) satellite in geostationary orbit.

Sentinel-5 is a payload that will monitor the atmosphere from polar orbit aboard a MetOp Second Generation satellite.

Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite mission is dedicated to atmospheric monitoring. The satellite was launched on 13 October 2017.

Sentinel-6 mission carries a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height, primarily for operational oceanography and for climate studies. The satellite was launched on 21 November 2020.

Looking to the future, six high-priority candidate missions are being studied to address EU policy and gaps in Copernicus user needs, and to expand the current capabilities of the Copernicus space component.