European Satellite with Dutch Space Instrument Tropomi at its Core Launched into Orbit

The Sentinel-5P satellite, with the Dutch space instrument Tropomi at its core, has been launched


The Dutch Tropomi measurement instrument was launched on the Sentinel-5P satellite into orbit from the Russian Plesetsk launch-site today. This innovation makes it possible to obtain detailed air-quality measurements anywhere in the world from space, once a day. Tropomi is a Dutch solution to the global challenge of making industry, transport and energy production sustainable and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Central government supported the development of this invention to the tune of almost €100 million over the last seven years.

Minister Kamp of Economic Affairs: “The Tropomi shows how we here in the Netherlands are using innovation and perseverance to push boundaries and come up with solutions to global challenges. This particular Dutch innovation will strengthen our position in the European space industry.”

ESA’s Copernicus Project & tackling climate change

Working on instructions from the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA) has already launched five Sentinel satellites into space. All of the Sentinel satellites observe the Earth through their own electronic eyes. The launch is part of the European mega project Copernicus that aims to deploy satellites to monitor the safety and health of our planet. Sentinel-5P is the latest addition to the Copernicus stable. This time it is packed with Dutch-made high tech, combined to form the technological tour de force, Tropomi. Its mission: to analyze the Earth’s atmosphere, every day, across the globe, with unprecedented precision.

The Dutch government pursues an active policy to green the economy, to achieve goals set out in the Paris Agreement. If successful, the Energy Agreement will result in an increase in sustainable energy use from the current 6% to 16% in 2023. Greater insight at a global level is necessary to make further steps possible. Tropomi will be used – until 2025 – to clearly assess air quality throughout the world, identify where greenhouse gases are being produced and what the sources of that contamination are.

And not before time, says Pepijn Veefkind from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), which manages the scientific side of the project together with the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON). ‘Previous satellite readings provided data about the air quality above urbanized areas around the world, such as Western Europe and Eastern China. The red patches on the maps we compiled from this data speak for themselves. The high-accuracy observations made by Tropomi will give us pointers for tackling the problem.’

Tropomi brings companies, knowledge institutes and government together

Tropomi is a collaboration between Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands, KNMI, SRON and TNO. Netherlands Space Office and ESA commissioned Tropomi. Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands is the principal contractor for developing the instrument. Scientific management is in the hands of KNMI and SRON. Funding for TROPOMI was provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

‘The advanced technology used for Tropomi is the life’s work of many Dutch engineers. That is why a final glimpse of the satellite is so special’, says Sytze Kampen from Airbus in Leiden. ‘This is the final result of a combination of Dutch high tech and years of dedication from a close team of specialists. Seeing a project actually ready for launch is a rare occurrence in the career of a space engineer.’

Several technological developments realized by Airbus in Leiden, and incorporated into the global concept, are crucial to Tropomi. Sytze Kampen from Airbus: ‘Our partners SRON and TNO came up with the idea of immersed gratings. It’s a clever optical trick that allows the whole instrument to be forty times smaller. Pure profit in space engineering terms.’

Sources:  and

13 October 2017




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