Images released by the European Space Agency on Friday are very revealing - Showing the level of air pollutants around the world, including the sulfur dioxide, ash, and smoke from the Mount Agung volcano in Bali.
The Sentinel-5P satellite
© ESA Earth Online
Artist's rendition of The Sentinel-5P satellite.
On October 13, this year, the ESA launched its UK-built Sentinel-5P, a pollution monitoring satellite. Sentinel-5P is the first Copernicus satellite solely dedicated to monitoring the Earth's atmospheric chemistry, 24-hours a day, every day., and it has lived up to its name.

The satellite's instruments, as it orbits over 800 kilometers (497 miles) above Earth, produces one million gigabytes of data that's about the same as 213,000 DVD movies. Pollutant levels are measured across individual countries, providing data on Ozone NO_2, SO_2, Formaldehyde, Aerosols, Carbon dioxide, Methane, and Clouds, according to the ESA website. The monitoring is in support of air quality, climate, and ozone operational monitoring programs.

In a statement, ESA says that "even though the satellite is still being prepared for service, these first results have been hailed as exceptional and show how this latest Copernicus satellite is set to take the task of monitoring air quality into a new era."

OZONE Distribution on Earth
OZONE Distribution on Earth - One of the first images from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission shows how ozone is distributed around the world. While ozone in the stratosphere is a good thing, protecting us from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, lower down in the atmosphere it is a harmful pollutant.
What the images tell us

The images show high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over parts of Europe. This yellowish-brown gas is produced by vehicle emissions and some industrial processes.
SENTINEL-5P SEES NITROGEN DIOXIDE OVER EUROPE - Sentinel-5P mission shows nitrogen dioxide over Europe on 22 November 2017. It shows high emissions over the Po Valley in northern Italy and over western Germany.
In images of Asia, Africa, and South America, you can easily see the high levels of carbon monoxide, commonly produced by fires, while a series of images also show sulfur dioxide, ash, and smoke from the Mount Agung volcano in Bali last month.

Josef Aschbacher, ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said, "Sentinel-5P is the sixth satellite for the EC Copernicus environmental monitoring programme but the first dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere. These first images offer a tantalizing glimpse of what's in store and are not only an important milestone for the Sentinel-5P mission but also an important milestone for Europe."

Pollution over India
Image released by European Space Agency ESA on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 shows pollution from power plants in India taken by Copernicus Sentinel-5P on Nov. 10, 2017.
The first results were revealed at the DLR German Aerospace Center, where Sentinel-5P's data are processed.