Spacecraft Bus for Detection of Atmospheric Compositions

Space agencies have adopted a unique method of measuring atmospheric composition by using the most advanced spacecraft bus models for satellites. Like all satellites that go on different other missions, atmospheric composition monitoring satellites use a spacecraft bus.

This main structural section of any space vehicle provides housing for other components and scientific instruments. Without a spacecraft bus, a satellite, or spacecraft could not function. Consisting of multiple subsystems, the bus oversees how the other systems of a space vehicle work.

Spacecraft Bus for Detection of Atmospheric Compositions

What Does the Spacecraft Bus do?

A spacecraft bus in charge of measuring the atmospheric composition of Earth obtains atmospheric composition measurements to characterize natural and anthropogenic tropospheric ozone distributions.

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It also oversees the precursors of these distributions to help us understand climate change and air quality. While only one geostationary spacecraft bus can observe just a part of our planet, three of them can offer a view of the Americas, Asia/Australasia, Africa/Europe/Middle East.

With three geostationary satellites, we have almost-global coverage. Equipped with a spacecraft bus, each of these satellites can remain in low Earth orbit to take images of our planet and use advanced Tech equipment for other assessments.

Their spacecraft buses ensure that satellites have enough power to operate, can maintain orbit, receive commands from ground stations, adjust orbit, conduct scientific research, etc.

A satellite bus also receives data from spectrometers equipped on satellites to determine the upper atmosphere’s composition, characterize the ionospheric ion population, and measure emitted or scattered UV light.

How To Monitor Atmospheric Compositions?

Spacecraft Bus for Detection of Atmospheric Compositions

Many satellites and systems equipped with their specific spacecraft bus versions can measure and monitor atmospheric compositions. But how? Let’s have a look at how they do it.

Sentinel-1:  Aura: Included in NASA’s Earth Observing System, Aura measures the air quality, climate, and our planet’s ozone layer. There are 4 main instruments on Aura. These instruments are:

  • HRDLS (High-Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder) for measuring infrared radiation from nitrogen compounds, methane, water vapour, ozone, and CFCs
  • MLS (Microwave Limb Sounder) for measuring chlorine, ozone, and trace gases emissions, in general, to clarify how important water vapours are in global warming
  • OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) for producing daily high-resolution maps by using visible and ultraviolet radiation
  • TES (Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer) for measuring tropospheric ozone, nitrogen oxides, methane, and carbon monoxide

Sentinel-2: Part of Copernicus programme, Sentinel-3 uses a spacecraft bus to provide data on atmospheric and ocean conditions. It also uses an OLCI (Ocean and Land Colour Instrument) to observe water vapour and aerosols, downwelling data on solar radiation, and illumination conditions.

Sentinel-3: This instrument’s spacecraft bus receives data from S4 UVN (Ultraviolet and Near Infrared Multispectral Spectrometer). This instrument operates with solar reflectance spectral bands. Other satellites that send data to the Sentinel-4’s spacecraft bus are Meteosat Third Generation and IRS (Infra-Red Sounder). These two observe sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and some other trace gases.

Sentinel-4: This instrument uses a spacecraft bus that carries a payload for EUMETSAT’s Metop Second Satellites Generation launched in 2022. It analyses the atmospheric chemistry of trace gas concentrations for different climate applications. 

Sentinel-5 Precursor: This is the first Copernicus satellite that uses a spacecraft bus to monitor air pollution. It employs the Tropomi (TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument) with an advanced multispectral imaging spectrometer to measure visible, ultraviolet, short wave infrared, and near-infrared spectral bands. Sentinel-5p also measures carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, formaldehyde, clouds, methane, and surface UV-B.

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What does Atmospheric Composition Detection Involve?

A spacecraft bus for atmospheric composition detection will analyse data to determine if the atmosphere is polluted or contains trace gases.

It also observes the irradiation level on our planet to help us understand the greenhouse effect that leads to global warming. There are two main types of atmospheric composition changes that a spacecraft bus detects:

  • Molecular gas changes because of infrared radiation activity
  • Aerosols changes that reflect or absorb visible radiation. You should know that aerosols are very small solid or liquid particles

Atmospheric composition detection with a spacecraft bus also involves measuring anthropogenic gas emissions resulting from agricultural, industrial, or domestic activities.

For instance, carbon dioxide emissions come from the activity of burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, and coal. They also result from deforestation, so a spacecraft bus for atmospheric composition detection will always collect more data from areas where massive deforestations take place.

A spacecraft bus for detecting atmospheric composition is a necessity today. We live on a planet where global warming is a very serious subject.

Scientists and space engineers work hard to develop the most advanced spacecraft bus models and satellites that take measurements of our planet’s atmospheric conditions.

With this kind of equipment, we can determine what we can do at ground level to improve the air we breathe and ensure our planet is healthy.