New era in air quality monitoring a step away

Sentinel-5p arrives in Plesetsk

The Sentinel-5P satellite has arrived in Plesetsk in northern Russia to be prepared for liftoff on 13 October. Built to deliver global maps of air pollutants every day and in more detail than ever before, this latest Copernicus mission will set a new standard for monitoring air quality.

Sentinel-5P is the first Copernicus mission dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere. It follows five other Sentinel satellites already in orbit and delivering a wealth of information about our planet.

The Sentinels make up the core of EU’s Copernicus environmental monitoring network. An EU flagship space initiative, Copernicus provides operational information on the world’s land surfaces, oceans and atmosphere to support environmental and security policymaking, and meet the needs of citizens and service providers.

Sentinel-5P 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, 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 precious cargo was taken from Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, UK, where it was put together and tested, to London Stansted Airport to be loaded onto a huge Antonov plane for its flight to Moscow. This leg was followed by another flight to Arkhangelsk in northwest Russia and then a 250-km train journey to Plesetsk, arriving safe and sound on Friday 1 September.

The team have now cleaned the satellite’s transport container and moved it to the ‘MIK’ cleanroom where it will be opened tomorrow.

It will then spend the coming weeks being tested and prepared for liftoff and its journey into orbit on a Rockot launcher.

ESA’s Sentinel-5P project manager, Kevin McMullan, said, “I’m very proud of my team and our partners at Airbus Defence and Space, and of course the Netherlands Space Office who we developed the satellite instrument with.

“The campaign to launch Sentinel-5P is now well and truly underway and we are very much looking forward to launch on the 13 October and then making sure the satellite is fully commissioned so that it can start its job of delivering vital information to monitor air pollution.”