Leicester scientists welcome completion of air quality monitoring satellite

The National Centre of Earth Observation (NCEO) at our University has welcomed the completion of Sentinel 5-Precursor for launch this year.

Sentinel-5 Precursor is part of the global monitoring programme for environment and security (Copernicus), a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA), and it will be the first satellite of the Copernicus programme to provide essential air-quality and atmospheric chemistry data. 

The spacecraft development of Sentinel-5 P was led by the Airbus team in Stevenage, UK where the instrument is on show before it is shipped to northern Russia for launch. ESA will operate the ground segment including data processing and distribution.

Scientists from NCEO will be part of the science community using the data collected by the TROPOMI instrument, which was developed and provided by the Dutch Space Office, on board Sentinel-5 P to map out key pollutants that are harmful to human health and contribute to climate change.

Sentinel-5 P will map out the whole globe within a day with much finer detail than possible from any other satellite before which will allow us to detect pollution hotspots from space and to monitor the distribution of pollutants within urban regions.

Dr Hartmut Boesch, from the National Centre for Earth Observation, said: “Air pollution and climate change are some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time and the measurements from Sentinel 5-P will allow us to make a huge step forward in our understanding of emissions of key pollutants such as nitrogen oxide or methane.”