The atmosphere-monitoring satellite for Europe’s Copernicus programme, Sentinel-5P, lifted off on a Rockot from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 09:27 GMT (11:27 CEST) on 13 October 2017.
Sentinel-5P – also known as Sentinel-5 Precursor – is the first Copernicus mission dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere. The satellite carries the state-of-the-art Tropomi instrument to map a multitude of trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and aerosols – all of which affect the air we breathe and therefore our health, and our climate.
With a swath width of 2600 km, it will map the entire planet every day. Information from this new mission will be used through the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service for air quality forecasts and for decision-making.
The mission will also contribute to services such as volcanic ash monitoring for aviation safety and for services that warn of high levels of UV radiation, which can cause skin damage.
In addition, scientists will also use the data to improve our knowledge of important processes in the atmosphere related to the climate and to the formation of holes in the ozone layer.
Sentinel-5P was developed to reduce data gaps between the Envisat satellite – in particular the Sciamachy instrument – and the launch of Sentinel-5, and to complement GOME-2 on MetOp.
In the future, both the geostationary Sentinel-4 and polar-orbiting Sentinel-5 missions will monitor the composition of the atmosphere for Copernicus Atmosphere Services. Both missions will be carried on meteorological satellites operated by Eumetsat.
Until then, the Sentinel-5P mission will play a key role in monitoring and tracking air pollution.
Sentinel-5P is the result of close collaboration between ESA, the European Commission, the Netherlands Space Office, industry, data users and scientists. The mission has been designed and built by a consortium of 30 companies led by Airbus Defence and Space UK and NL.