The first data on air pollutants from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite have been released following months of tests and careful evaluation.
The first maps from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite show a range of trace gases that affect air quality such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.
Launched in October, Sentinel-5P is the first Copernicus satellite dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere. It is part of the fleet of Sentinel missions that ESA developed for the European Union’s environmental monitoring Copernicus programme managed by the European Commission.
Philippe Brunet, Director of Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence at the European Commission said: “These first data are another milestone for our Copernicus programme. They show how Sentinel-5P is set to make a real difference in monitoring air quality and highlight European Union’s contribution to combatting the global issue of air pollution.”
Understanding air quality
Poor air quality continues to prematurely claim the lives of millions of people every year, and so it is more important now than ever that we find better and more accurate ways of monitoring the air we breathe.
With the Copernicus Sentinel-5P containing the Tropomi instrument – the most advanced multispectral imaging spectrometer to date – the satellite can zoom onto the surface of the Earth and deliver highly detailed and accurate data about the atmosphere.
With a resolution of up to 7 x 3.5 km, it can even detect air pollution over individual cities.
Tropomi also has the capacity to locate where pollutants are being emitted, effectively identifying pollution hotspots.
What has the data shown?
The initial data from the satellite have highlighted air pollution as emitted by big cities and ship lanes through measurements of nitrogen dioxide over Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India.
The data also shows the transport of carbon monoxide from India to China, and the closing of the ozone hole during 2017.
Harry Förster from the Netherlands Space Office explains: “Sentinel-5P further enhances existing. and initiates new, European applications in this area because the very high resolution of Tropomi is simply unprecedented.
“In combination with the improved sensitivity of the detectors we now have a spectrometer that is about 10 times better than its predecessor.”
Having completed its commissioning phase, Copernicus Sentinel-5P data is now available to all, free of charge.
Copernicus Sentinel-5P will also contribute to services such as volcanic ash monitoring for aviation safety and warnings of high level UV radiation.