Observing our future
Observing our future
Observing our future
How clean is the air that we breathe?
High-Tech in Holland
Cutting-edge science from space

Our air needs to be clean and healthy. But the question is this, how clean is it really and how are we affecting it? Satellites have brought a painful reality into the open. Human activities (e.g. traffic, heavy industry) are causing alarming amounts of gasses and dust. But by means of agreements laid down internationally, we seek to take air quality to the required standard. With its unprecedentedly detailed view,

Tropomi (TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument) makes perfectly clear how air pollution is caused and whether international agreements indeed pay off. It is how air polluters are displayed, which allows us to see whether countries are observing the existing climate agreements, and warn pilots on time about any erupting volcanoes making flights unsafe.

Which questions does Tropomi provide an answer to? Copernicus: our earth in focus


The satellite instrument known as Tropomi provides a new standard when atmospheric research is involved. Its unprecedented accuracy helps scientists analyse the atmosphere down to molecular levels. Such is only feasible with high-tech innovations, like immersed grating and freeform optics (both were designed by Dutch engineers). Tropomi maps the atmosphere from space where extreme conditions require solid, reliable and light equipment at the same time.

Designing high-precision instruments that meet aerospace’s strictest requirements has been a Dutch field of expertise for decades.

How does Tropomi work on the inside? Tropomi’s predecessors


Climate change is an undeniable fact. But what exactly is changing? And at what speed? How do we interfere? And what are the consequences for mankind? We can only answer questions such as these provided we have access to reliable data, collected over a long period of time. Tropomi is called in to map the earth’s atmosphere every single day, quite meticulously. It is how we can see precisely how air quality changes.

Since the 1950s, the Netherlands has been developing and building satellite instruments to ensure groundbreaking science. This rich tradition makes us a global player when it comes to space research and the technology involved.

Find out where we stand



Photo: Robert Goddyn

4 November 2013
Dutch space instrument Tropomi measures smog down to city level
The Dutch space instrument Tropomi (launch in 2015) will be mapping air pollution from space down to city level....

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11 December 2012
GMES now called Copernicus
Het Europese aardobservatieprogramma GMES gaat verder onder de naam Copernicus. De naamswijziging leidt de operationele fase van het programma...

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NL stadswarmtekaart

27 November 2012
Satellites mapping urban warming
In daytime, the surface area of all 73 largest cities in the Netherlands is an average of 2.9 degrees...

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Facts & FAQ


Tropomi meet gassen door direct zonlicht te vergelijken met het licht dat de dampkring weerkaatst.

more facts


Tropomi timeline