by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Dec 13, 2011
Astrium has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as prime contractor for the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite (S5p) a low-cost mission to monitor atmospheric chemistry.
The contract was signed in the presence of Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General, David Willetts, UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, and David Williams, CEO of the UK Space Agency. With this 45.5 million euroe contract, Astrium builds upon its Earth observation heritage.
S5p is part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES), which is a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Under GMES, S5p is a high-performance, single satellite, low-cost mission that will bridge the observation gap predicted for when the current atmospheric chemistry measuring satellites ENVISAT and ERS-2 reach the end of their operations.
With a launch scheduled for early 2015 and a seven year lifetime, S5p will maintain the continuity of science data before the Sentinel-5 instrument becomes operational towards the end of this decade.
The Sentinel 5 instrument is scheduled to fly on the MetOp Second Generation satellites in a polar orbit.
The TROPOMI (TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument) instrument, developed by Astrium's subsidiary Dutch Space for ESA and the Netherlands Space Office, will take measurements of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and other atmospheric pollutants at a higher resolution than existing instruments.
Having more accurate atmospheric data will enable improved climate models and weather forecasting.
"The Sentinel-5 Precursor mission is fantastic news for Astrium as it was won in open competition in a tough environment. Not only is it the first ESA prime contract won by Astrium in the UK for seven years, it is also ESA's current GMES first low cost satellite programme.
"The mission will ensure that Europe retains the ability to monitor atmospheric pollutants before the Sentinel-5 instrument becomes operational," said Colin Paynter, Head of Astrium UK.
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