The new Sentinel satellite will be used to monitor the growth of cities
Sentinel 2B was carried by a Vega rocket from the European Space Agency (Esa) base at Kourou, French Guiana.
The £95 million (€110 million) spacecraft has a camera sensitive to 13 different light wavelengths – effectively shades of colour – including some invisible to the human eye.
This will enable it to study the health of crops and forests, track the growth of cities, and detect the effects of changing land use and global warming on the Earth's vegetation.
Sentinel 2B will also be used to monitor natural disasters caused by floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and support humanitarian relief efforts.
Europe is leading the global monitoring aspect of space
The satellite is one of pair of twins, the first of which, Sentinel 2A, was launched in June 2015.
Flying along the same path in polar orbits 488 miles up but separated by half the globe, they will scan all the world's land surfaces, large islands, and inland and coastal waters every five days, generating huge quantities of data.
The one tonne spacecraft are the backbone of Copernicus, an Earth-watching programme on an unprecedented scale led by the European Commission in partnership with Esa.
Sentinel 2B will also be used to study natural disasters and support humanitarian efforts
Over the next seven years Copernicus, which includes several Sentinel missions, will cost an estimated £3.7 billion.
The programme is expected to return at least 10 times that figure to the EU economy, even though its treasure trove of data is being offered completely free to companies, governments and institutions around the world.
Sentinel 2 complements but outperforms the US Landsat series of satellites that has been the prime provider of Earth observation data since 1972.
Landsat 8, the latest satellite, can "see" only eight colours and has a resolution of 30 metres compared with Sentinel 2's ten.
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Working on its own, Landsat offers a global view of the world every 16 days instead of five.
Josef Aschbacher, the director of Earth observation programmes at Esa, said: "Sentinel 2 is a huge improvement. The biggest improvement is the global coverage. At mid-latitudes it's even better, every three days.
"For the first time [Europe is] leading the global monitoring aspect of space. There's nothing comparable in America, in Japan, in Russia, in India.
"What is more the data are free and openly available to everyone."
The Copernicus project will cost an estimated £3.7bn and included several Sentinel missions
Each Sentinel 2 satellite is designed to "carpet map" a swathe of the Earth 180 miles wide. Between them the satellites will generate 1.6 terabytes of compressed raw image data daily.
The total amount of data available from Copernicus is staggering. Even before the launch of Sentinel 2B, around 21 petabytes of data had been downloaded from the system. A petabyte is equal to a thousand million million bytes.
World of Warcraft uses 1.3 petabytes of storage to maintain its game and Google Photos has an estimated of 13.7 petabytes worth of photos uploaded in the first year of its existence.
"This is a high number, maybe difficult to imagine," said Mr Aschbacher.
The amount of data downloaded from the system is more than the entirety of Google Maps' first year
He added that each day Copernicus was producing more data than all the photos and movies uploaded on Facebook.
The business model involves the free deluge of information triggering growth, investment and demand, especially in data mining operations.
So far around 65,000 users have registered to access the system.
Sentinel 1A and 1B, launched in 2014 and 2016, provide radar mapping data. Other Sentinel missions, some yet to be launched, will collect data on the oceans, atmosphere and climate.