The European Space Agency has released the first images of global air pollution captured by the Sentinel-5P satellite.

The craft was launched last month with the task of monitoring air quality around the world and is currently being readied for full operations.

However, at an event in Germany this morning, ESA scientists offered a taste of what the satellite will be capable of capturing, including images and video showing poor air quality in different parts of the world.

Among the images was nitrogen dioxide levels over Europe, caused by traffic and the combustion of fossil fuel by industry.

The pictures showed high concentrations over parts of the Netherlands, the Ruhr area in western Germany, the Po Valley in Italy and over parts of Spain.

The scientists also created the first global map showing concentrations of carbon monoxide, which is released by the incomplete burning of fuels.

This animation shows high levels of this air pollutant over parts of Asia, Africa and South America.

Other images published by ESA include high resolution pictures of the polluting gases being spewed out by volcanoes around the world, including the erupting Mount Agung in Bali.

Sentinel-5P is the sixth in a constellation of satellites that are part of Copernicus - an Earth and environmental monitoring programme being run by the European Space Agency and the European Union.

The craft uses the most advanced instrument of its kind, called Tropomi, to gather data around nitrogen dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and aerosols.

Sentinel-5P can capture 20 million observations a day, mapping the whole planet every day.

"These first images offer a tantalising glimpse of what's in store and are not only an important milestone for the Sentinel-5P mission, but also an important milestone for Europe," said Josef Aschbacher, ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes.

"Data such as we see here will soon underpin the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, and will be used to issue forecasts, and will ultimately be valuable for helping to put appropriate mitigation policies in place."