Russia's Rokot Carries Sentinel Satellite Into Orbit for Atmosphere Monitoring

Russia's Rokot Carries Sentinel Satellite Into Orbit for Atmosphere Monitoring”

Named Sentinel-5P, the spacecraft successfully launched at 10.27am United Kingdom time from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome - a Russian spaceport 500 miles (800km) north of Moscow.

At the heart of Sentinel-5P is Tropomi (short for Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument), which will map air quality along a swath 1,801 miles (2,900 kilometers) wide from an orbit 512 miles (824 km) above Earth.

As part of the European Commission and European Space Agency's (ESA) Copernicus project, the Dutch-designed satellite will map the distribution of harmful gases and aerosols in the atmosphere. "After separating from the upper stage, Sentinel-5P deployed its three solar panels and began communications with Earth", the statement said.

The mission will be controlled by operators in Darmstadt, Germany, who will be monitoring the satellite's systems to check they are healthy and functioning properly.

The data transmitted by Sentinel-5p will also help scientists to further study the formation of holes in our planet's ozone layer, according to Reuters.

Sentinel-5P is one of the six satellites which make up the core of Europe's Copernicus environmental monitoring network.

"Having Sentinel-5P in orbit will give us daily and global views of our atmosphere with a precision we never had before", said Josef Aschbacher, the ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes.

The launch of the Copernicus project became especially urgent after Europe lost contact with its Earth observation satellite Envisat in 2012 after 10 years.

Orbital observation can be used to compare reported air pollution by governments with actual data, to see whether countries are living up to their commitments under worldwide treaties, Gaudy said.

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