EARTH | Space instruments & demonstrators

EARTH | Space instruments & demonstrators

EARTH | Space instruments & demonstrators

EARTH | Space instruments & demonstrators

Artist impression of MetOp SG-A satellite. Credit: ESA
Sentinel 5 instrument design (Figure courtesy to ESA)
Estimated CO retrieval performance from simulated S5(-P) measurements. (left panel: true CO total column, right panel: estimated CO bias, Landgraf et al, 2016)

With the unique fleet of MetOp Second generation (MetOp SG) satellites, Europe starts a new era of operational satellite remote sensing of the Earth's atmosphere. The mission comprises three identical pairs of satellites, a pair comprising MetOp SG-A and MetOp SG-B, each pair carrying in total a comprehensive suite of fifteen complementary instruments.

The overall mission objective is to obtain long-term data sets of space observations with uniform quality for EUMETSAT’s operational services for meteorology and climate monitoring and forecasting. The satellites will be launched sequentially with the first launch foreseen in 2021, providing us atmospheric observations beyond the year 2040.


Sentinel-5 is one of the MetOp SG-A satellite payloads with the objective to monitor atmospheric trace gas concentrations for air quality forecast and climate monitoring applications. It is the successor of Sentinel-5 Precursor/TROPOMI and is one element of the Copernicus Space Component that consists of a series of space-borne missions/instruments called 'Sentinels' that are developed under lead of the European Space Agency (ESA) in coordination with the European Commision.

The spectrometer covers the spectral range from the ultraviolet to the shortwave infrared (270-2385 nm) with a spatial resolution below 8x8 km2 and its main data products will be O3, NO2, SO2, HCHO, CO, CH4 and aerosol optical depth. The spectral dispersion in the 1.6 and 2.3 range is achieved by immersed gratings, which are developed by SRON.


To meet the mission service goals, reliable and timely data processing is a prerequisite. Due to the extensive expertise of the SRON Earth science group on the retrieval of trace gases from space-borne observations in the shortwave infrared, SRON advises ESA on the mission implementation and will provide the algorithms to infer CO and CH4 atmospheric abundances from Sentinel 5 observations as part of the operational processing.

The SRON Earth science group builds further on its heritage algorithms SICOR and RemoTeC that have been successfully applied to SCIAMACHY, GOSAT and OCO-2 data and which are the baseline for retrievals of CO and CH4 of Sentinel-5 precursor/TROPOMI. Our codes combine state-of-the-art scientific algorithms with up-to-date software development.