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UK-built pollution monitoring satellite ready for launch


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The Sentinel-5P spacecraft is designed to monitor the pollution that causes a reported tens of thousands of deaths every year in the UK. Last year, the European Space Agency launched the Trace Gas Orbiter to Mars. It is designed to look for methane – a key tracer of life – to determine if Martian microbes are present on the red planet. Now, ESA is preparing to launch another spacecraft to look at methane on another planet: our own. The UK-built Sentinel-5P, a pollution monitoring satellite, is ready to begin its journey from Airbus Defence and Space, Stevenage, to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia, where it will lift off in late September/early October. Sentinel-5P is part of the Copernicus global monitoring programme, a joint venture between the European Commission and the European Space Agency. This particular spacecraft is the first Copernicus satellite dedicated to monitoring atmospheric chemistry. Missions like this are essential for making the connection between space and everyday life on Earth, according to Colin Paynter, Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space, UK. He says, “Space is not just for geeks, it is part of our national and international infrastructure.” As a greenhouse gas, methane is potent. It traps 28 times more heat than an equivalent mass of carbon dioxide. It is released naturally by living things – hence the interest in looking for it on Mars – but also from the fossil fuel industry, landfill sites, rice agriculture and the thawing of the permafrost at higher latitudes. As well as methane, Sentinel-5 P will also look for nitrogen dioxide and other key polluting gases. Nitrogen dioxide comes mainly from road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion, and naturally occurring forest fires. Last year a report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found that in the UK air pollution causes at least 40,000 deaths a year, and costs the economy £20bn a year.

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http://www.theguardian.com/science/across-the-universe/2017/jul/20/uk-built-pollution-monitoring-satellite-ready-for-launch

Posted by on Jul 23 2017. Filed under News at Now. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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