The Sentinel-5P spacecraft has successfully launched from Russia on a mission to monitor global air quality

Sentinel-5P launches from Russia

The Sentinel-5P spacecraft has successfully launched from Russia on a mission to monitor global air quality.

The UK-assembled satellite launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome onboard a ballistic missile at 10:37 BST (05:37 EST).

Once in position, Sentinel-5P will take 20 million observations every day, which researchers will use to create maps of pollution around the world.

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The Sentinel-5P spacecraft has successfully launched from Russia on a mission to monitor global air quality

The Sentinel-5P spacecraft has successfully launched from Russia on a mission to monitor global air quality

SENTINEL-5P

Sentinel-5P is part of the ESA’s Copernicus programme, which pulls together all Earth-monitoring data from space and the ground to help scientists studying climate change.

The satellite contains several instruments that will be used to gather data about our planet.

One of the instruments, called TROPOMI, will take readings of gases that contribute to pollution, including nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide.

The data collected by the satellite will be used in a range of ways, including providing pollution warnings in cities, and providing better quality air forecasts.

The European Space Agency confirmed the successful launch with a tweet that read ‘Lift off for #Sentinel5P from Plesetsk!’ along with a video of the launch.

S5P was built in Stevenage by Airbus Defence and Space UK, under a £40 million ($53 million) contract signed in 2011.

The satellite is part of the ESA’s Copernicus programme, which pulls together all Earth-monitoring data from space and the ground to help scientists studying climate change.

Five satellites – which are all called Sentinels – have already been launched, with many more planned to follow in the coming years.

Sentinel-5P contains several instruments that will be used to gather data about our planet.

One of the instruments, called TROPOMI, will take readings of gases that contribute to pollution, including nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide.

The UK-assembled satellite launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on board a ballistic missile at 10:37 BST (05:37 EST)

The UK-assembled satellite launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on board a ballistic missile at 10:37 BST (05:37 EST)

Pepijn Veefkind, principal investigator at KNMI, the firm that designed Sentinel-5P, told BBC News: ‘Big sources, such as power plants – you will be able to detect them. But generally we will be on the city scale.

‘So for example in the Netherlands, we will be able to distinguish between the centre of Rotterdam and the harbour.’

The data collected by the satellite will be used in a range of ways, including providing pollution warnings in cities, and providing better quality air forecasts.

THE SENTINEL SATELLITES

Each Sentinel satellite carries a range of technologies:

Sentinel-1 is a polar-orbiting, all-weather, day-and-night radar imaging mission for land and ocean services

Sentinel-2 is a polar-orbiting, multispectral high-resolution imaging mission for land monitoring to provide, for example, imagery of vegetation, soil and water cover, inland waterways and coastal areas

Sentinel-3 is a multi-instrument mission to measure sea-surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, ocean colour and land colour with high-end accuracy and reliability

Sentinel-5P is the forerunner of Sentinel-5 to provide timely data on a multitude of trace gases and aerosols affecting air quality and climate

Sentinel-4 is a payload devoted to atmospheric monitoring that will be embarked upon a Meteosat Third Generation-Sounder (MTG-S) satellite in geostationary orbit

Sentinel-5 is a payload that will monitor the atmosphere from polar orbit aboard a MetOp Second Generation satellite

Sentinel-6 carries a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height, primarily for operational oceanography and for climate studies

Pictured is an artist's impression of the seven Sentinel satellites which form part of the Copernicus programme

Pictured is an artist’s impression of the seven Sentinel satellites which form part of the Copernicus programme

It will also be used to track methane levels.

Speaking about the gas, Professor Paul Palmer, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘It’s kind of the poorer cousin of carbon dioxide, but it has a fascinating story of its own.

‘In the 1990s its growth rate in the atmosphere went to zero for seven years before then going back up – and we don’t know why.

The satellite is part of the ESA's Copernicus programme, which pulls together all Earth-monitoring data from space and the ground to help scientists studying climate change

The satellite is part of the ESA’s Copernicus programme, which pulls together all Earth-monitoring data from space and the ground to help scientists studying climate change

Sentinel-5P contains several instruments that will be used to gather data about our planet. One of the instruments, called TROPOMI, will take readings of gases that contribute to pollution, including nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide

Sentinel-5P contains several instruments that will be used to gather data about our planet. One of the instruments, called TROPOMI, will take readings of gases that contribute to pollution, including nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide

‘The quality of the data has not been sufficient for us to say why that happened; and that’s a big problem.

‘Having the daily information from TROPOMI, I’m hopeful that if something similar happens again we’ll be in a better position to explain what’s going on.’

Dr Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency, described the Copernicus programme as a huge success for the UK.

The data collected by the satellite will be used in a range of ways, including providing pollution warnings in cities, and providing better quality air forecasts. Pictured is an artist's imprssion of the satellite being released from the Rockot

The data collected by the satellite will be used in a range of ways, including providing pollution warnings in cities, and providing better quality air forecasts. Pictured is an artist’s imprssion of the satellite being released from the Rockot

The rocket is pictured ahead of its launch in Russia
The satellite was launched on board a Russian Rockot

Dr Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency, described the Copernicus programme as a huge success for the UK. Pictured is the rocket ahead of its launch

He told the BBC: ‘It has a global vision and provides near real-time measurements of Earth on an unprecedented scale – and we’ve been a key part of it.

‘It’s been a major work programme for UK space technology companies, but data from the Sentinel satellites is why Copernicus exists – data that benefits the UK in areas such as emergency response, flooding, farming, environmental management, rural payments, air quality, marine planning, (and) fisheries.’

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