It’s been working less than a month but already the UK-Dutch-built Sentinel-5P satellite is returning new views of Earth’s atmosphere.
The satellite was designed to make daily global maps of the gases and particles that pollute the air.
The first sample images released by mission scientists show plumes of nitrogen dioxide flowing away from power plants and traffic-choked cities.
Some of the first data have been used to create a global map of carbon monoxide. The animation shows high levels of this air pollutant over parts of Asia, Africa and South America.
Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth observation programmes, said: “Sentinel-5P is the sixth satellite for the EC Copernicus environmental monitoring programme but the first dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere.
“These first images offer a tantalising glimpse of what’s in store are not only an important milestone for the Sentinel-5p mission, but also an important milestone for Europe.”
Stefan Dech, Director of DLR’s Earth Observation Centre, said: “These first images are astonishing, especially given that the satellite is still in the early stages of being commissioned for operations.”
Sentinel-5p carries the most advanced sensor of its type to date: Tropomi. This state-of-the-art instrument can map pollutants such as, methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and aerosols, all of which affect the climate.