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Sentinel-2A satellite sends back trippy color images of Earth

The European Space Agency's new Earth-gazing satellite's first images from space make our planet look like a technicolor wonderland.

Sentinel Po Valley
Sentinel-2A sees Italy as a patchwork of bright colors. Copernicus data (2015)/ESA

Earth is already a colorful place, but it becomes surreal when seen through the eyes of the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2A satellite.

Where human eyes might see swathes of green across the Po Valley of northern Italy, Sentinel-2A sees a bright mosaic of red, green and blue intercut with dark ribbons of river. This view highlights agricultural plots in the area. The French Riviera comes back as a striking shade of dark orange against an inky sea.

The images are part of the satellite's first picture collection sent back to Earth after it was launched on June 23. The ESA describes the device as having "an innovative wide-swath high-resolution multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands for a new perspective of our land and vegetation."

The 2A is part of a fleet of satellites tasked with collecting environmental data and imagery for the European Commission's Copernicus project, a program broadly focused on monitoring the Earth through satellites and ground-based sensors. The information gathered on climate change, agriculture, plant growth, pollution levels and natural disasters is destined to help guide government policies.

Sentinel-2A is focused on agriculture and forestry with a keen eye for vegetation and plant-growth monitoring. It will be able to track changes in forests, observe pollution levels in bodies of water and even gather data and imagery in case of natural disasters such as flooding or landslides. It will be joined by its twin Sentinel-2B satellite in late 2016.

Sentinel look at French Riviera
The French Riviera appears in bright orange shades. Copernicus data (2015)/ESA