- Sentinel-5P carries the most advanced multispectral imaging spectrometer
- It can measure pollution emitted by individual cities or parts of a city
- Sentinel-5P can map pollution levels across the globe every 24 hours
New Delhi: With air pollution putting the health of millions of people at risk, it is important to understand exactly what pollutants are there in the air claiming about 6.5 million lives a year across the globe. To understand this, European Space Agency on October 13, 2017, launched Sentinel-5 Precursor (Sentinel-5P), an Earth observation satellite, which is essentially the first mission of the Copernicus Programme dedicated to monitoring air pollution. The Sentinel-5P satellite, which is designed to make daily global maps of the gases and particles that pollute the air, recently delivered images of air pollution around the world, including the images of pollution emanating from power plants in India. The worst of this pollution runs from north of Patna in Bihar to south of Raipur in Chhattisgarh, the scientists said.
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Notably, the satellite carries the most advanced multispectral imaging spectrometer to date – Tropomi that observes the reflected sunlight coming off from the Earth and then analyses its different colours.
According to European Space Agency, what sets Tropomi apart from other satellite sensors is that it can map pollutants (nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide, all of which affect the air we breathe) in much higher spatial resolution, than, say, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite – which Europe relies on mostly for information on air pollutants.
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Our estimates of pollutants are often limited by the current resolution of satellite measurements. We are looking forward to using Sentinel-5P’s Tropomi because it will make it much easier to distinguish between different sources of pollutants, said Ronald van der A from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.
The first sample images released by mission scientists show plumes of nitrogen dioxide flowing away from power plants and traffic-choked cities. Notably, Sentinel-5P has even captured the RECENT ash and sulphur emissions from Agung volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali, in the midst of a big eruption.
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Researchers from the Netherlands Met Office (KNMI) still need to complete five months of calibration work to get the satellite’s data ready for public use. When fully operational, the satellite will be an extremely powerful tool to monitor air quality, according to principal investigator Pepijn Veefkind.
The satellite was launched into an 824 kilometre high orbit by a Russian rocket. Notably, this first mission of the Copernicus Programme has a swath width (when a satellite revolves around the Earth, the sensor “sees” a certain portion of the Earth’s surface. The area imaged on the surface, is referred to as the swath) of 2600 km, which allows the whole planet to be mapped every 24 hours.
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With inputs from PTI