Taking air-quality inventories to new heights

Taking air-quality inventories to new heights

Sulphur dioxide over Europe from OMI

30 November 2017

The first images from Sentinel-5P will be revealed tomorrow. Although it will be a few months before the satellite is ready for service, these first results are expected to show just how this new Copernicus mission is set to be a game changer for monitoring air quality.

With air pollution putting the health of millions of people at risk, it is important to understand exactly what is in the air so that accurate forecasts can be issued, and, ultimately, appropriate mitigation policies put in place.

While the notion of an inventory might sound a tad boring, air pollution emission inventories are fundamental to implementing new environmental directives. But as important as these inventories are, they do not currently include satellite data.

The problem is that today’s satellites do not provide measurements in high enough spatial resolution to be useful for emission inventories – but the Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission is about to change this.

Sulphur dioxide emissions

Launched on 13 October, the satellite carries the most advanced multispectral imaging spectrometer to date: Tropomi.

What sets Tropomi apart from other satellite sensors is that it measures trace gases in much higher spatial resolution, than, say, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite – which Europe relies on mostly for information on air pollutants.

Ronald van der A from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, KNMI, said, “Our estimates of pollutants are often limited by the current resolution of satellite measurements.

“We are looking forward to using Sentinel-5P’s Tropomi because it will make it much easier to distinguish between different sources of pollutants.”

Tropomi’s spectral range

Measuring from the ultraviolet to the shortwave infrared, Tropomi can detect the unique fingerprints of numerous polluting gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide.

And, being able to image with a resolution as high as 7 × 3.5 km, the mission can measure pollution emitted by individual cities or parts of a city.

This is key because the information currently used in emission inventories is currently compiled largely from statistical information on industrial sites, population density and traffic, for example.

These inventories tend to be updated only every few years and they are subject to national reporting, which can vary from country to country.

Air quality monitoring for Copernicus

Even given the present constraints, organisations such as the European Environment Agency work hard to generate comprehensive inventories but it is anticipated that Sentinel-5P will be a huge boost for these inventories.

Claus Zehner, ESA’s Sentinel-5P mission manager, said, “We really are at a very important juncture for air-quality monitoring. This astonishing new satellite mission will measures air pollutants like never before from space.

“In the near future, measurements from this novel mission can be certainly used to complement and improve classic air-quality emission inventory calculations.”

Nitrogen dioxide from ships

Interestingly, emissions measured from space can show when certain patterns of behaviour changes – and so can be useful for highlighting the humanitarian impact caused by a particular issue.

For example, ships would usually take the shortest route. However, since the beginning of 2009, Somalian pirates attacked hundreds of vessels in the Arabian Sea. Shipping companies therefore had to choose new routes despite them being longer.

These route shifts are reflected in nitrogen dioxide data from OMI. Sentinel-5P, with its higher spatial resolution, will show changes such as this, even in areas with less traffic.

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Vega Evolution preparation and Space Rider development

Vega Evolution preparation and Space Rider development

Vega configurations

30 November 2017

ESA signed two contracts today with Italy’s ELV and Thales Alenia Space to extend Europe’s Vega space system capabilities and competitiveness, and develop Space Rider for payload return capability.

ELV will develop and extensively test a new European cryogenic upper stage engine development model for Vega evolutions beyond 2025, based on low-cost liquid oxygen–methane propulsion.

The engine replaces the current Zefiro-9 solid-propellant motor and the AVUM upper stage engine for Vega-E, matching Vega-C performance at significantly reduced costs and improved flexibility.

In addition, complementing the Small Spacecraft Mission Services (SSMS) programme already under development, ELV will investigate how existing motors such as the P120, P80, Z40, Z23, Z9, could be used to create a family of Vega-E configurations able to place payloads of 200–2500 kg into orbit.

This will incorporate promising technologies in the areas of 3D layer-by-layer additive manufacturing, hydrogen peroxide as low-toxicity propulsion, and advanced avionics, offering competitive production and operational costs. 

The contract concerning the Vega evolution activities worth €53 million was signed by ESA Director of Space Transportation Daniel Neuenschwander and ELV Managing Director Andrea Preve at ESA headquarters in Paris.

Space Rider

In parallel, Thales Alenia Space and ELV will complete the detailed mission and system design up to the Critical Design Review for Space Rider.

The Space Rider space transportation system will be integrated with Vega-C, combining an Orbital Service Module derived from a Vega-C AVUM and a reentry module derived from the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) demonstrator flown in 2015 on Vega.

It will provide Europe with an affordable reusable platform for routine access and return from space, with payloads capacity up to 800 kg to an array of orbit altitudes and inclinations for multiple applications such as advanced microgravity, in-orbit demonstration and validation for Earth observation, science, telecommunication and robotic exploration.  

The Space Rider design builds on technological and industrial knowhow from Vega, Vega-C and the IXV development and demonstrations. 

Space Rider mission

Following on from the successful Vega–IXV mission, Space Rider will be launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, reach and stay in orbit as long as required to perform the payloads operations, deorbit and reenter performing a ground landing to return payloads to end users, and be refurbished and reused for the next mission.

The contract for Space Rider activities worth €36.7 million was signed by ESA Director of Space Transportation Daniel Neuenschwander, Thales Alenia Space Vice President Domain Exploration and Science Walter Cugno, and ELV Managing Director Andrea Preve at ESA headquarters in Paris.

Contracts signed for Vega-E and Space Rider development

The Vega and Space Rider development programmes provide the framework to consolidate a Vega space system able to capture the broadest market needs with Vega-C and its spin-offs products: SSMS, Space Rider, and the VEnUS Vega electric upper stage, covering access to low Earth orbit (LEO) for payloads up to 2300 kg, orbital transfer from LEO, and return from LEO, for a multitude of space applications in a competitive manner.

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Going green

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Guatemala’s COMNET Leverages SES Networks’ New Platform to Deliver High-Performance Connectivity

Written on 30 Nov 2017

Luxembourg, 30 November 2017 – COMNET, one of Guatemala’s leading service providers, is the first to tap into the newly-launched SES Networks Enterprise+ Broadband for Latin America to enable the delivery of Quanttum, a high-performance next-generation broadband service, to its end customers spanning the agro-industry, energy, construction, banking and tourism industries.

SES announced today that in the multi-year contract COMNET will utilise the carrier-class managed services platform on the SES-10 satellite to extend connectivity in a reliable way to under-served geographical areas.

The turnkey broadband multi-tenant platform is underpinned by SES’s comprehensive and high-performance fleet coverage over Latin America, an extensive global teleport infrastructure, and iDirect’s ground system capabilities. By using Enterprise+ Broadband, COMNET can customise and flexibly manage connectivity for each customer.

“SES Networks Enterprise+ Broadband platform is a step up when it comes to performance and pricing. The competitive offering is enabling us to focus on providing better value for money services to our customers, enabling them to grow their business faster and across a wider region using our new Quanttum service,” said Jorge Eskenasy, CEO at COMNET.

Omar Trujillo, Vice President, Fixed Data, Latin America of SES Networks, said, “The benefits of Enterprise+ Broadband are that it’s entirely flexible and customisable to fit individual customer needs. Innovative ground technology is also helping us to better allocate bandwidth efficiently and to provide premium connectivity at competitive rates. We are extremely excited to have COMNET as our first customer and look forward to helping them grow their business.”

SES-10 was launched in March 2017. Providing enhanced coverage and significant capacity expansion over Latin America, SES-10 was the first geostationary commercial satellite to launch on a SpaceX flight-proven first-stage rocket booster.

More information on SES Networks Enterprise+ Broadband available at broadband here

For further information please contact:

Markus Payer

Corporate Communications & PR

Tel. +352 710 725 500

[email protected]

About SES

SES is the world-leading satellite operator and the first to deliver a differentiated and scalable GEO-MEO offering worldwide, with more than 50 satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and 12 in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES focuses on value-added, end-to-end solutions in two key business units: SES Video and SES Networks. The company provides satellite communications services to broadcasters, content and internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions. SES’s portfolio includes ASTRA, O3b and MX1, a leading media service provider that offers a full suite of innovative digital video and media services. SES is listed on the Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange (ticker: SESG). Further information available at: www.ses.com


Written on 30 Nov 2017

SS-520-4 • TRICOM-1R

Second launch of SS-520-4 rocket in 2017 after first attempt in January 2017. SS-520-4 is fin stabilized rocket, version of SS-520 with third stage. It is utilizing spinning as method of stabilization; with length of 9.65 m (SS-520) and diameter of 520 mm it weighs over 2600 kg. Payload capacity is 140 kg. Rocket was launched for the first time in 1998 from Uchinoura and for the second time in 2000 from Norwegian Svalbard Satellite Station.

Payload will be  spin stabilized Cubesat equipped with five cameras and data transmitter designed for Earth observation at University of Tokyo.

Read more => SS-520-4 • TRICOM-1R

H-IIA • GCOM-C & SLAT

A Japanese H-2A rocket will deliver to orbit two research satellites for JAXA:  Global Changing Observation Mission-Climate and the Super Low Altitude Test Satellite. First will perform series of measurements of carbon and radiation in atmosphere along with observation of clouds, and ice cover on Earth. Second will test electric ion thruster in the lowest possible orbit where conditions are tough due the greater air resistance.

Read more => H-IIA • GCOM-C & SLAT