With air quality a serious environmental health problem, the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite is tasked with mapping air pollutants around the entire globe every day. This new mission has been providing data on carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone since July and now other polluting nasties such as sulphur dioxide and formaldehyde have joined the list of data products available to monitor the air we breathe.
Air pollution affects people in developed and developing countries alike. In Europe alone, it is estimated that every year 400 000 people die prematurely because of poor air quality.
Satellite data and computer models are the only real way of showing how pollution accumulates around the world as a whole. In the immediate term, these tools are essential for forecasts and warnings on air quality. In the longer term they are indispensable for providing accurate information for decision-makers developing strategies to tackle this major problem.