UK-built Sentinel satellite to track air pollution

A UK-assembled satellite is set to go into orbit shortly to monitor air quality around the globe.

Its Dutch-designed instrument will make daily maps of polluting gases and particles known to be harmful to health. Called Sentinel-5P, the spacecraft is a contribution to the EU's Copernicus Earth-monitoring programme. S5P will ride to orbit on a converted Russian intercontinental ballistic missile called a Rockot.

Controllers will know they have a functioning satellite in position above the planet about an hour-and-a-half later when they first receive a radio communication from S5P. The EU, with the help of the European Space Agency (ESA), is developing a constellation of satellites as part of its Copernicus programme.

The satellite's TROPOMI instrument has been developed by a consortium led from the Netherlands' national meteorological agency (KNMI), and will build daily global maps of key gases that contribute to pollution. These include nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide. All affect the air we breathe and therefore our health, and a number of them also play a role in climate change. One major use for the data will be in delivering air quality forecasts, including providing warnings when citizens are likely to encounter problems like smog or high UV (ultraviolet light) levels.

Source: BBC

Päivitetty/Updated: 13.10.2017




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