COPERNICUS - Climate protection from space

About the project

Climate change poses great challenges for our planet. To meet these challenges, the European Union launched Copernicus, an Earth observation programme. Satellites collect data that enables scientists to gain insights into the environment and security, ranging from air quality forecasts, early detection of droughts and desertification, seawater quality measurements to early warnings of storms. This knowledge helps European service providers, public authorities and other organisations improve the quality of life of European citizens.

Part of the Copernicus mission is Sentinel-5, an Earth observation satellite that launched in 2022. It contains a spectrometer for displaying and measuring various spectra. To work reliably, researchers must calibrate each spectrometer regularly.

A snapshot of the Copernicus ESA mission
©ESA 2015 ­ Illustration: P. CARRIL

Our contribution

In space, astronomers use the sun as a reference light source for this calibration. However, since the amount of sunlight reaching the satellite changes regularly, scientists need a material that collects and transmits sunlight regardless of angle. This is done via a diffuser. When calibrating a spectrometer, there is a risk of radiation damage in space. This means that the diffuser loses its constant behaviour over time and can therefore no longer be used for calibration.

To prevent radiation damage, the diffuser uses material from Heraeus which is particularly resistant to radiation, is UV-resistant and allows reliable data recording.