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  Green satellite set to soar into space
Updated 28 February 2002, 15.50
Envisat standing on the launchpad in French Guiana
Envisat standing on the launchpad in French Guiana

A satellite that cost 1.4bn to build is being launched to keep an eye on the world's environment.

And unusually for a major space mission, it has been created in Europe rather than the US or Russia.

  Click here to have a go at our space quiz!

Fact File
Key Envisat facts
Cost: 1.4 bn
Size: A double-decker bus
Launcher: Ariane 5 rocket
Orbit: Will circle the earth every 100 minutes
Lifetime: at least 5 years in orbit
Purpose: To gather vital data on the Earth and its environment
The European Space Agency, with a little help from Canada, developed the satellite which will travel round the world 14 times a day for the next five years collecting data.

Scientists are hoping that the information it measures will help them understand much more about the planet, and perhaps even help them predict things like the weather and volcanoes erupting.

Powered by the sun

Kourou, French Guiana
They will also be using it to measure pollution, global warming and how quickly the planet's forests are being cut down.

It is being launched on a huge rocket called Ariane 5 from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, South America and once in space will be powered by the sun.

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