Europe’s pollution monitoring satellite — Sentinel-5 Precursor — is ready to leave Airbus’ Stevenage site for launch on a Rokot rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia.
Sentinel-5 Precursor is part of the global monitoring program “Copernicus,” a joint European Commission–ESA undertaking that aims to acquire continuous and accurate Earth Observation (EO) data and provide services to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. Sentinel-5 Precursor will provide essential atmospheric chemistry data to the Copernicus program before the Sentinel-5 instrument becomes operational in 2021 on the MetOp Second Generation satellite.
Airbus was prime for Sentinel-5 Precursor, with three sites involved in development and manufacturing of the satellites and its components: Stevenage (UK - prime), Toulouse (France) and Friedrichshafen (Germany). Sentinel-5 Precursor features the TROPOMI (TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument) instrument, developed by Airbus DS Netherlands for the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Netherlands Space Office.
TROPOMI will measure ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, methane and other atmospheric pollutants at a higher resolution than previous instruments. Having more accurate atmospheric data will enable improved climate models and pollutant tracking and forecasting. The MetOp Second Generation spacecraft will feature a different Sentinel 5 instrument.
Sentinel-5 Precursor is due for launch in September 2017 and will carry on board a short wave infra-red spectrometer for the TROPOMI instrument that was supplied by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL).
Colin Paynter, Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space in the UK, relayed that for the Sentinel-5 Precursor, the company used the commercially successful AstroBus platform — this mission will give Europe new way to measure global pollution levels in much greater detail.
UK Business Secretary Greg Clark added that the UK-built Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite and the success of the Copernicus Program demonstrates what can be achieved through collaboration with European partners and the UK’s role in the program and Earth observation expertise.
Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation Programs at ESA, added that the Sentinel-5 Precursor will be the sixth Sentinel satellite launched as part of the Copernicus space component and will monitor atmospheric chemistry, an important parameter for air quality and climate change studies. The contribution of the TROPOMI instrument by The Netherlands has been crucial for this ESA mission.