Copernicus air quality monitoring instrument prepares for take-off

The new Copernicus Sentinel-5 instrument, designed to deliver high resolution air quality data from around the world, has been delivered to Airbus in France ready to be installed on a weather satellite.

Copernicus, part of the EU space programme, is served by a set of dedicated satellites known as Sentinels. The first Sentinel-1A was launched in 2014, with the aim being to have around 20 more satellites in orbit by 2030.

Sentinel-5 will measure the distribution of atmospheric trace gases such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, formaldehyde, glyoxal, carbon monoxide, and methane, as well as aerosols.

Sentinel-5 follows on from the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite, the first Copernicus mission dedicated to monitoring air pollution, which has delivered a wealth of information on air-quality since its launch in 2017.

Sentinel-5 has a 2,700 km-wide swath, giving it full global coverage every day and incorporates five optical spectrometers that analyse the solar light reflected by the Earth. A wide spectral range, from ultraviolet to shortwave infrared, enables a wide range of different gases to be detected and measured.

The instrument also boasts very fine spatial resolution, typically 7.5 km, which is key for monitoring air quality over major cities and to pinpoint emission sources.

Now that the instrument has arrived with Airbus in Toulouse, engineers will install it on its host MetOp Second Generation-A1 satellite – which should take around a month.

Didier Martin, ESA’s Sentinel-5 Project Manager, said, “’We are thrilled to have passed this important milestone which is a significant step forward to realising the mission and its important task delivery key data for air-quality forecasts, climate monitoring and more.

‘We would like to thank all the teams involved for all their hard work. We now look forward to seeing Sentinel-5 installed on the MetOp Second Generation-A1 satellite by Airbus in Toulouse.

‘Airbus in Germany has led the consortium, which includes more than 45 companies from 13 European countries, in the development and build of this Copernicus mission.’

Once launched into Sun-synchronous orbit aboard MetOp-SG-A1, the satellite and the Sentinel-5 instrument will be operated by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, Eumetsat, in Germany, who will also be responsible for data acquisition, processing and distribution to users.

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service and the Copernicus Climate Change Service will use Sentinel-5 data for their information services that support environmental agencies in monitoring climate and air quality, and help authorities in related decision-making.

Since the data will be free and open, as is the case for all Copernicus missions, the scientific community and the general public worldwide will equally benefit from Sentinel-5.

photo: ESA–P. Carril

Paul Day
Paul is the editor of Public Sector News.


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