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Astrium’s sensors for GMES programme

France: European Space Agency (ESA) awarded a contract worth almost EUR 150 million to Astrium to build two satellite sensors that will monitor Earth’s atmosphere as part of Europium Union’s (EU) Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES). As prime industrial contractor, Astrium will coordinate the work of 45 companies in 11 European countries for the construction of the two instruments. The identical spectrometers, known as Sentinel-4, will each be carried on Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) weather satellites, to be launched in 2019 and 2027. From geostationary orbit 36 000 km above the equator, Sentinel-4 will provide data every hour on the chemical composition of the atmosphere including trace gases and ultraviolet radiation. By providing data on sulphur dioxide and aerosols over Europe, the mission will also help to improve the monitoring of plumes from volcanic eruptions.  
Marking the go-ahead for these specialised sensors, the contract was signed by Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, and Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Satellites, at the company’s premises in Ottobrunn near Munich in Germany.
About Sentinel-4, Prof. Liebig said, “Sentinel-4 will be the first spectrometer of this kind placed in geostationary orbit. This mission will not only provide accurate data for air quality forecasting services, but also provide information about greenhouse gases that can be used by decision-makers in formulating strategies aimed at reducing emissions.”
ESA’s first GMES satellite, Sentinel-1, is planned to be launched in 2013.  Source: ESA