TROPOMI Launch Day!

News - 13 October 2017

We have liftoff! TROPOMI is now in space aboard the Sentinnel-5P payload satellite and beginning the next phase of its journey.

The Launch
Sentinel-5P was transported to space on board a Russian Rockot launch vehicle this morning from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northwestern Russia, with mission control is based in Darmstadt, Germany. Approximately 1.5 hours after launch, the first signal was received from the Satellite, signalling the successful completion of the launch phase.

Sentinel-5P carrying TROPOMI launched at 9:27 GMT on board the Russian Rockot launch vehicle.

The first signal from Sentinel-5P broadcast live from ESA. While it doesn’t look like much, it was the indication of a successful launch.

 

Locally, the ESA hosted a launch event at the in Noordwijk, featuring discussions on the Copernicus Program and Sentinel-5P, atmospheric data, and the importance of the mission for the future of atmospoheric monitoring. Both Pepijn Veefkind (PI of TROPOMI, KNMI senior researcher, and Assistant Professor at GRS) and Pieternel Levelt (co-PI of TROPOMI and PI of OMI, head of the R&D satellite department at KNMI, and Professor at GRS) were among those on stage talking about the mission. There was also, appropriately, a “satellite” event for the general public at the Space Expo, with further GRS members in attendance.

Pepijn Veefkind on screen talking about TROPOMI.

Some of the members of GRS in attendance at the Space Expo for the launch event with (a wooden cut-out of) Dutch astronaut André Kuipers.

 

If you would like to watch the event back, see the video here.

To see where everything took place, here is a map of some of today’s locations of interest…with the exception of near Earth orbit!

What Happens Now?
Once Sentinel-5P is in position, the next phase of the mission – called the commissioning phase –  can begin: calibration and testing. In order to ensure the data products being sent back by TROPOMI are of the high quality expected, it must first undergo a rigorous calibration period. This phase will occur over the next six months and will be supervised, among many other people, by Pepijn Veefkind. Once the rigorous calibration phase is complete, the many years of high-quality earth monitoring can begin! Data will be handled by the KNMI and Dutch Space, which will be openly available for all to access. When the first results come back, you can be sure we will let you know.

The next phase for TROPOMI is to undergo calibration and testing in the 6-month calibration phase. After that, the science can begin. 
Source: ESA

 

To everyone who has followed along this week with these articles, or on Twitter and Instagram using #GRS_TROPOMI, thank you!

- Julien and Jonathan