A UK-built satellite has been launched from Russia with the mission to monitor the world’s air pollution.
The 820kg Sentinel-5 Precursor is the sixth satellite under Europe’s leading environmental programme, Copernicus, which monitors the atmosphere to help understand the spread of key pollutants and their impact on the planet.
The new satellite carries an instrument called Tropomi, developed jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Netherlands Space Agency, to map a multitude of gases such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide – all of which affect the air and therefore people’s health as well as the climate.
Sentinel-5P deployed its three solar panels and began communications with the Earth, before the first signal was received 93 minutes after the launch as it passed over the Kiruna station in Sweden.
Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency said: “Data from the Sentinel satellites benefits the UK public sector in areas such as emergency response and flooding, farming and environmental management, air quality, marine planning and fisheries.
“The same data is also available to companies so they can create commercial applications that help our wider economy.”
The mission is expected to begin full operations in six months.