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ESA selects Astrium to build Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite

(December 2011) Furthering Europe’s capacity to monitor atmospheric pollution, ESA has awarded a contract worth 45.5 million euro to Astrium UK to act as prime contractor for the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite system.

Scheduled to be launched in 2015, Sentinel-5 Precursor (Sentinel-5P) will be the first satellite dedicated to monitoring atmospheric chemistry for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme.

Astrium UK is now responsible for the delivery and integration of the satellite platform and system that make up the mission as a whole.

The contract was signed by ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Volker Liebig, and Astrium’s UK National Director for Earth Observation, Navigation and Science, Miranda Mills.

Prof. Liebig said, “This contract marks another significant milestone in the development of our series of Sentinel satellites to serve GMES.

“Sentinel-5P will ensure we have continuous data to monitor the ozone hole and tropospheric pollution.”

As Sciamachy on ESA’s Envisat and the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA’s Aura mission come to the end of their lives, Sentinel-5P will fill the gap between current atmospheric capabilities from low polar orbit and the launch of Sentinel-5, envisaged for around 2020.

Sentinel-5P will therefore ensure that atmospheric data are available for climate modelling and weather forecasting between 2015 and 2022.

The satellite will carry the Tropospheric Ozone Monitoring Instrument, or Tropomi. This advanced imaging absorption spectrometer will provide data on atmospheric trace gases and aerosols that affect air quality and climate.

It measures ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants at a higher resolution than currently available.

Tropomi is being developed in the Netherlands as a joint venture between ESA, the Netherlands Space Office NSO, the Dutch Royal Meteorological Institute KNMI, the Dutch Institute for Space Research SRON, TNO and Dutch Space.

With atmospheric pollution a major concern, three Sentinel missions dedicated to atmospheric monitoring are being developed for GMES.

Sentinel-4 will be carried on the Meteosat Third Generation satellites in geostationary orbit and Sentinel-5 will be carried on the MetOp Second Generation satellites in polar orbit from the end of the decade.

Through GMES, data from all the Sentinel missions will be made available as services for decision-makers to help manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.