Air pollution imagery captured by Sentinel-5P

Air pollution imagery captured by Sentinel-5P

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Sentinel 5P
Sentinel-5P shows Nitrogen Dioxide over Europe. Image Courtesy: ESA

France: Sentinel-5P satellite has delivered its first air pollution images. Even though the satellite is still being prepared for service, these first results have been exceptional and demonstrate how this latest Copernicus satellite is all set to take the complex task of monitoring air quality into a new era.

This new mission promises to image air pollutants in more precise and comprehensive way than ever before. And, while the first results point out the sophistication of the satellite’s instrument, they also bring the issue of air pollution into focus.

One of these first images shows nitrogen dioxide over Europe, which is caused mainly by traffic and the combustion of fossil fuel in industrial processes. High concentrations of this air pollutant can be seen over parts of the Netherlands, the Ruhr area in western Germany, the Po Valley in Italy and over parts of Spain.

Some of the first data have been used to create a global map of carbon monoxide. The map shows high levels of this air pollutant over parts of Asia, Africa and South America.

High levels of pollution from power plants in India is also shown by Sentinel-5P

Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said, “Sentinel-5P is the sixth satellite for the EC Copernicus environmental monitoring programme but the first dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere.

“These first images offer a tantalising glimpse of what’s in store and are not only an important milestone for the Sentinel-5P mission but also an important milestone for Europe.

“Data such as we see here will soon underpin the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, and will be used to issue forecasts, and will ultimately be valuable for helping to put appropriate mitigation policies in place.”

Sentinel-5P has Tropomi, the most advanced sensor of its type till date. This state-of-the-art instrument can map pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and aerosols, all of which affect the air we breathe and our climate.

These first results were revealed at the DLR German Aerospace Center, where Sentinel-5P’s data are processed.

Stefan Dech, Director of DLR’s Earth Observation Center, said, “These first images are astonishing, especially given the satellite is still in the early stages of being commissioned for operations.

“The satellite’s Tropomi instrument promised to offer images of pollutants in higher resolution than ever before, and it’s certainly living up to its promise.”