How to Watch Today's SpaceX Sentinel-6 Launch

SpaceX will launch its Sentinel-6 ocean-mapping satellite on Saturday. The satellite will be deployed on a five-year mission to map rising sea levels associated with global warming.

The launch is scheduled to take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 12:17 p.m. EST (9:17 a.m. PST). It will be launched on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The event can be watched live at space.com via NASA TV or on NASA TV's YouTube channel. Weather is reportedly 80 percent good for the launch but a backup launch is also scheduled for Sunday at 12:04 p.m EST (9:04 a.m PST).

According to space.com, Sentinel-6 will "enhance the models and maps" for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NASA gave to press briefings about the mission on Friday discussing the important impact the satellite will have for modeling that's designed to keep people safe from hurricanes. Recent storms have been more severe. This has been linked to climate change, while 2020 has had the most named storms ever.

Sentinel-6 will have a one-year commissioning period after which raw data from the satellite will be available for the public to download from the website of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).

Karen St. Germain, director of NASA's Earth science division, told a press conference that Sentinel-6 could help to show how much of rising sea levels is due to melting ice sheets.

"Since 70% of the Earth's surface is ocean, the oceans play an important role in how the whole system [of global warming] changes," St. Germain said.

"These global changes are creating both risks and opportunities for our human communities," she said.

"We're watching the rate of sea level rise right before our eyes, and it's satellites like this that allow us to do it," said Josh Willis, Sentinel-6 project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, during the science briefing on the mission.

Rising sea levels are a major concern as they endanger coastal communities throughout the world, while melting ice sheets contribute to the problem, especially for small island nations. Sea levels do not rise at the same rate around the world, making accurate mapping and modeling even more important for understanding the problem.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Lifts Off
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 15. A similar rocket is scheduled to launch the Sentinel-6 satellite on Saturday. GREGG NEWTON/AFP/Getty Images