The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) is developed by the Netherlands and Finland. It measures the global concentration of ozone and other important gases in the earth atmosphere. OMI is capable of visualizing the global concentration of atmospheric ozone on a daily basis, and it does this with a so far unsurpassed resolution. This information is useful for the prediction of the (local) intensity of ultra-violet radiation and smog formation. The OMI instrument is part of the EOS-AURA satellite built under the responsibility of NASA.
Development Model of OMI Optical Bench
Ozone is important for the environment we live in. The ozone layer on an altitude of 40 kilometers protects man and nature against the harmful effect of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In the past 30 years the ozone layer has been eroded and scientists want to understand the causes and if the layer might be able to recover by itself. OMI will collect data about many atmospheric gases, and ozone in particular. Based on this data scientists are able to assess the condition of the ozone layer, and calculate the amount of harmful radiation it allows to pass through. It will provide on a daily basis global information on pollution in the lower 10 km of the atmosphere. OMI provides an important source of information for the study and prediction of climate changes. An important feature of OMI is that the instrument can look at relatively small areas (approximately 10 kilometer square).
EOS Aura is a scientific satellite for atmospheric measurement. It is built for NASA by TRW Inc. Installed on-board are four scientific instruments that will perform measurements for six years. OMI is one of these instruments. There are four items OMI can measure, which are atmospheric ozone in the troposhere (i.e. the lower 10 km of the atmosphere), troposheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2), tropospheric aerosols (small dust or liquid particles in the atmosphere) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). OMI has to answer questions like: Does the ozone layer restore itself as expected? What is the reason for the formation of aerosols and trace-gases and how do those concentrations move? What is the role of ozone and aerosols in a possible climate change? And what is the possible cause for a change in the ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation on the surface of the earth?
It is no surprise that NASA has selected a Dutch instrument tot fly on EOS. In the past decade the Netherlands has built up an excellent reputation in the field of instrumentation for research of the earth's atmosphere from space. A good example is the development and construction, by a Dutch consortion, of the optical heart of the advanced SCIAMACHY instrument. It is a spectrometer that gives scientists a better understanding of the role that ozone plays in the atmoshere. SCIAMACHY is installed on-board the European Envisat satellite and is operational since the spring of 2002. And it is working well.
OMI is developed by Dutch Space and TNO. The electronic system was built by DASA (now Astrium) in cooperation with Patria Finavitec and VTT from Finland. The KNMI (Royal Dutch meteorological institute) is scientific leader of the project and SRON (Dutch space research institute) are also closely involved in the project. The customer is the NIVR (Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes). Scientific users are amongst others the KNMI in the Netherlands, FMI in Finland and NASA.
A project such as OMI shows that the Netherlands wishes to contribute to the construction of a global earth-observation network. It also meets the need of (Dutch) users, in this case in particular the KNMI, but also RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), FMI, NASA and other institutes. It demonstrates that the Netherlands has the knowledge and ability to provide a significant contribution in this field. The cooperation between Dutch research institutes and aerospace industry shows that the Netherlands belongs to the world top. It is important to foster that expertise, to improve it and exploit that international position.
A project like OMI for EOS Aura is an important stimulus for creativity and innovation in science and technology, with results for the benefit of the Netherlands as a whole. Investments in space projects more than repay themselves in economic activity in the Netherlands. By means of international cooperation, a high level of knowledge and because of its innovative nature, participation in space projects such as OMI is an important contributor to realising an internationally competive knowledge-based economy in the Netherlands.
Within the OMI project Dutch Space not only played a major role in the development of the instrument, but also in the development of the OMI Ground Data Processing Software.
Updated information, including observation results, can be found at the OMI Updates page.
OMI page at KNMI