On March 1, 2002, ESA launched its ENVIronmental SATellite (ENVISAT) with on-board some 10 instruments observing the Earth. One of these instruments is the SCanning Imaging Absorption spectroMeter for Atmospheric CHartographY (SCIAMACHY) funded by the German (DLR) and Dutch (NIVR) space agencies, with the Belgian government providing a contribution via IASB. The primary scientific objective of SCIAMACHY is the global measurement of various trace gases in the troposphere and stratosphere such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, water vapour, formaldehyde, bromine oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbondioxide, methane and carbonmonoxide.
SCIAMACHY is the successor of the GOME instrument, originally referred to as SCIAmini, which was succesfully lauched on ERS-2 in 1995. More GOME-like instruments will follow on-board of EUMETSAT's polar Metop-series. The first Metop satellite will be launched in 2005, followed in 2010 and 2015 by Metop-2 and Metop-3. This will guarantee a 25-years record (1995-2020) of a number of important species such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, bromine oxide, formaldehyde etc.