Sentinel-5 mission monitors greenhouse gases with Swiss help

Zurich/Aigle VD – The European Sentinel-5 P mission and, from 2025, its successor Sentinel-5 will carry out atmospheric measurements in space. They also use Swiss high-tech to send information about air quality, climate change, ozone and UV radiation.

Swiss high technology can also be found on board the Sentinel-5 Precursor (Sentinel-5 P) satellite. The companies APCO Technologies from Aigle and Thales Alenia Space Switzerland are helping to ensure that the state-of-the-art TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI), which this satellite carries, can detect a variety of trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and aerosols at an altitude of over 830 kilometers.

All these gases in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere, influence the air we breathe on Earth and its climate. This mission also serves, for example, to monitor volcanic ash for flight safety and enables warnings of high UV radiation, which can cause skin damage. This is the first mission under the Copernicus program of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) to monitor the Earth's atmosphere. The polar-orbiting satellite maps the entire Earth in one day with high temporal and spatial resolution.

Thales Alenia Space Switzerland, represented on eleven of twelve Copernicus missions, is providing the readout electronics for the detectors of the imaging spectrometer for Sentinel-5 P, which was launched in Russia in October 2017.

APCO Technologies' space division is one of the European market leaders in three areas: Flight Equipment, Mechanical Ground Support Equipment (MGSE) and On-Site Services. APCO Technologies developed the platform structure of the satellite for this mission, including the optical bench for the multispectral camera.

The successor mission Sentinel-5 will be launched in the second quarter of 2025, also with Swiss participation. The Copernicus Sentinel 5 spectrometer will fly on the polar-orbiting MetOp Second Generation weather satellite of the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and, together with three new instruments, will further improve the air quality forecasts of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. The MetOp satellites are being built by a European industrial consortium led by Airbus Defence and Space with ESA as the contractual partner. ce/mm

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