Air pollution monitoring Sentinel on show

20 July 2017

With Sentinel-5 Precursor about to be packed up and shipped to Russia for liftoff in late September, media representatives, members of the UK Space Agency and National Centre for Earth Observation had the chance to see this Copernicus air-pollution monitoring satellite standing proud in the cleanroom.

Sentinel-5 Precursor – also known as Sentinel-5P – is the first Copernicus mission dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere.

It has been built to map a multitude of trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane that affect air quality.

The satellite will help to identify pollution hotspots where public health could be at risk. It will also contribute to services that warn of high levels of UV radiation, which can cause skin cancer, and volcanic ash monitoring for aviation safety.

Carrying the Tropomi instrument, the most advanced of its kind, Sentinel-5P will map the entire planet every 24 hours. The availability of accurate and up-to-date information will help decision-makers to fight air pollution and climate change.

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Josef Aschbacher Access the image

Sentinel-5P is the forerunner of the Sentinel-5 mission to be carried on the MetOp Second Generation satellites that will be launched in a few years. Until then Sentinel-5P will deliver much needed information to monitor and track air pollution.

The media event was held at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, UK, where the satellite was built and tested.

ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, said, “It’s wonderful to see the satellite in all its glory, and it’s thanks to a truly collaborative effort that it will take the EC’s Copernicus programme into a new era of atmospheric monitoring.

“ESA is very grateful to the Netherlands for its substantial contribution to the Tropomi instrument. The mission as a whole was designed and built by a consortium of 30 companies under the leadership of Airbus Defence and Space.”

Nico van Putten, Deputy Director of the Netherlands Space Office, added, “The development and the implementation of the top-notch Tropomi instrument for Sentinel-5P is thanks to the remarkable close cooperation between different entities from all over Europe.

Bringing air pollution into focusAccess the video

“As a Dutch institution we are proud to contribute to this marvel of space technology, which will now help to tackle global challenges, making Europe even stronger in Earth observation.”

Pepijn Veefkind from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, KNMI, added, “Every day, Tropomi will make almost 20 million observations of important air pollutants and gases affecting the climate.

“KNMI will use this data to improve air-quality forecasts and to keep a close eye on emission increases or reductions, and to monitor what mitigation measures are effective in protecting the air we breathe.”

Engineers will now prepare the satellite for shipment to the Plesetsk launch site in Russia. Once there it will be thoroughly tested and prepared for launch in late September.

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