New Chinese satellite tracks global carbon emissions
China now monitors greenhouse gasses through its own satellite. After Japan and the United States, China is the third country to have this capability. The Chinese Academy of Sciences stated that TanSat’s launch pushes China to the forefront of greenhouse gas measurements from space.
The Tansat satellite, which weighs 620kg, was sent into a sun-synchronous about 700 kilometers above the earth. The TanSat launched in December 2016 at the Jiuquan launch base in northwestern China. The satellite arrived near-circular polar orbit a few minutes later.
The satellite monitors the concentration, distribution, and flow of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The satellite will enable China to comprehend climate change further. Furthermore, it provides Chinese policy makers independent data. According to Zhang Peng, TanSat application system commander and vice director of the National Satellite Meteorological Center:
“Since only the United States and Japan have carbon-monitoring satellites, it is hard for us to see first-hand data.”
TanSat will examine (CO2) levels every 16 days. This will be accurate to at least four parts per million. The research on the CO2 flow will further improve the understanding of the carbon cycle and generate more accurate predictions of climate change.
The development of TanSat and its high-resolution CO2 detector took almost six years by the Shanghai Engineering Center for Microsatellites. The vision of the TanSat is so accurate that it can distinguish atmospheric CO2 as small as 1 percent. TanSat’s cloud and aerosol detectors minimize interference. Therefore the observations are more precise.
The satellite has several different modes for observing oceans and land. There are six ground-based observation stations to calibrate the satellite. These calibrations will ensure the accuracy of the TanSat. According to Lin Chao, who was involved in developing the detectors:
“We can now collect carbon data from all over the world, all year round, and record the carbon contributed by both developed countries and the developing countries.”
Besides the TanSat, the Long March 2D rockets also carried a high-resolution micro-nano satellite and two spectrum micro-nano satellites.
The TanSat probe allows China to monitor greenhouse gas emissions, and give it more data in future negotiations on carbon reduction. The satellite will trace the sources of greenhouse gasses and help evaluate if countries are fulfilling their commitments. China is one of the signatories to the Paris climate change agreement, which is the first universal action plan to contain global warming. China and the United States account for 40% of the world’s emissions, so their participation is crucial to the success of the agreement.