Satellite Images Show Extent Of Air Pollution Around The World

Posted: Dec 2 2017, 10:04pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Satellite Images Show Extent of Air Pollution Around the World
The image shows pollution from power plants in India taken by Sentinel-5P on Nov. 10, 2017. Credit: ESA

Europe's Sentinel-5P satellite sends its images of global air pollution for the first time

European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite has sent its first images of air pollution around the world. The images are remarkable and reveal the extent and distribution of air pollution in more detail than ever before.

“These first images offer a tantalizing glimpse of what’s in store and are not only an important milestone for the Sentinel-5P mission, but also an important milestone for Europe.” Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said in a statement.

Launched in October, the Sentinel-5P satellite is designed to monitore the air we breathe. The satellite is equipped with instruments that can monitor our atmosphere and map the levels of gases like nitrogen dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide, affecting the quality of air. One of its instruments is called Tropomi and it is the most advanced sensor for mentoring atmosphere.

“The satellite’s Tropomi instrument promised to offer images of pollutants in higher resolution than ever before, and it’s certainly living up to its promise.” said Stefan Dech, Director of DLR’s Earth Observation Center.

“These first images are astonishing, especially given the satellite is still in the early stages of being commissioned for operations.”

Sentinel-5P is the sixth in the series of Europe-built advanced satellites. All these satellites are dedicated to monitor Earth but Sentinel-5P it is the first one to track pollutants in our atmosphere. The five other satellites are already in orbit and providing a wealth of information about our planet.

The images show that air pollution is highest above Asia, Africa and South America and it is largely driven by fires. The satellite has also been able to capture high levels of pollution from power plants in India and concentrations of sulfur dioxide emitting from Mount Agung volcano in Bali last month.

Researchers believe that these images will help improve their understanding of air pollution in different parts of the world and allow them to predict the extent of pollutants more accurately.

ESA researcher Josef Aschbacher says. “Data such as we see here will soon underpin the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, and will be used to issue forecasts, and will ultimately be valuable for helping to put appropriate mitigation policies in place.”

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