ESA Orders Nearly $200 Million Weather Instrument from Airbus

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PARIS — The European Space agency on March 28 contracted with Airbus Defence and Space to build a large spectrometer to study the atmosphere following a launch in 2021 aboard a European polar-orbiting meteorological satellite.

Under the contract, valued at 144 million euros ($197 million), Airbus’ facility in Ottobrunn, Germany, will manufacture an infrared, visible, near-infrared and shortwave infrared imaging spectrometer as part of the Sentinel-5 mission.

The 270-kilogram instrument will be launched as a secondary payload aboard a Metop meteorological satellite, operated by Europe’s Eumetsat organization and scheduled for launch into an 800-kilometer polar Earth orbit in 2021.

The Sentinel-5 payload is scheduled for delivery in 2019, Airbus said.

Sentinel-5 is one of a series of low-orbiting environmental payloads being built, with ESA oversight, for the European Commission’s Copernicus program. Sentinels 1-3 are dedicated satellites, the first of which is scheduled for launch April 3 aboard a Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket. Sentinels 4 and 5 are secondary payloads on Eumetsat meteorological satellites.

Airbus said the Sentinel-5 instrument is scheduled to operate for more than seven years. It is designed to take images with a 2,670-kilometer swath width and to cover Earth’s entire atmosphere each day with an image resolution of 7 square kilometers.


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