Ozone Monitoring Instrument

Environmental questions

The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) flies on NASA's Aura satellite, (launched on 15 July 2004). The Aura satellite is focussed on observing atmospheric chemistry, in order to contribute largely in answering the following major environmental questions:

  1. Is the ozone layer recovering as expected?
  2. What are the sources of tropospheric pollutants, their chemical transformation and their transport?
  3. How is Earth's climate changing?

The EOS-Aura satelite

The EOS-Aura satellite consists of four instruments, which are the High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS), the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES), which is a nadir and limb sounder, and OMI. The instruments are located such, that they could sample the same air mass within minutes.

OMI's scientific mission

OMI's scientific mission is directly related to these questions and can be summarized by 4 Science Question to which OMI measurements will contribute in large:

  • Is the ozone layer recovering as expected ?
  • What are the sources of aerosols and trace gases that affect global air quality and how are they transported?
  • What are the roles of tropospheric ozone and aerosols in climate change ?
  • What are the causes of surface UV-B change?


The heritage of OMI are the European ESA instruments GOME and SCIAMACHY, which introduced the concept of measuring the complete spectrum in the ultraviolet/visible/near-infrared wavelength range with a high spectral resolution. This enables one to retrieve several trace gases from the same spectral measurement.

The American predecessor of OMI is NASA's TOMS instrument. TOMS uses only 8 wavelength bands, from which the ozone column can be obtained. TOMS has the advantage that it has a fairly small ground-pixel size (50 km × 50 km) in combination with a daily global coverage.

OMI combines the advantages of GOME and SCIAMACHY with the advantages of TOMS, measuring the complete spectrum in the ultraviolet/visible wavelength range with a very high spatial resolution (13 km × 24 km) and daily global coverage. This is possible by using a two-dimensional detector.


The OMI instrument is a nadir viewing imaging spectrograph that measures the solar radiation backscattered by the Earth's atmosphere and surface over the entire wavelength range from 270 to 500 nm with a spectral resolution of about 0.5 nm. The 114° viewing angle of the telescope corresponds to a 2600 km wide swath on the surface, which enables measurements with a daily global coverage. The light entering the telescope is depolarised using a scrambler and then split into two channels: the UV channel (wavelength range 270 - 380 nm) and the VIS channel (wavelength range 350 - 500 nm).

In global mode, the OMI pixel size is 13 km× 24 km at nadir (along x across track). 

Made possible by

OMI was built by Dutch Space and TNO Science & Industry (formerly TNO-TPD) in The Netherlands, in co-operation with Finnish subcontractors VTT and Patria Finavitec. The instrument was financed by the Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes (NIVR) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).