China is taking the next step to cut its carbon footprint with the launch of its newest satellite designed to monitor greenhouse gas emissions over the country.
State-run news agency Xinhua announced on Thursday, Dec. 22, that China has successfully sent its first carbon dioxide monitoring satellite TanSat into space via a Long March-2D rocket. The spacecraft was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in the Gobi Desert.
Yin Zengshan, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and lead designer of the TanSat probe, said the satellite is on course to make a sun synchronous orbit at an altitude of about 700 km (435 miles) from the Earth.
According to its developers, TanSat's main goal is to collect data on carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere, including its concentration, distribution and flow, in order to improve understanding on the impact the greenhouse gas has on climate change.
To accomplish its mission, the satellite has been fitted with a high-resolution Carbon Dioxide Spectrometer (CarbonSpec), which is designed to monitor the near-infrared absorption of CO2, and a Cloud and Aerosol Polarimetry Imager (CAPI), which is tasked with compensating for any errors in CO2 measurements involving aerosols and clouds in the atmosphere.
TanSat's equipment allows it to accurately measure CO2 levels over land and oceans, as well as in different lighting conditions.
The satellite can also operate in various modes for collecting data and capturing images, depending on which part of the planet is being observed. It uses its nadir mode when making observations over land areas but it can also switch to a different mode to compensate for sunglint when it's carrying out observations over large bodies of water.
TanSat is also equipped with a Target mode, which will allow the satellite to make different observations using multiple lens angles.
All CO2 data gathered by the satellite will be verified using those from ground surface validation stations located in DunHuang, Hainan, Shandong and XiShuang Banna.
The researchers behind the TanSat mission hope that they will be able to provide valuable information, which the country can use to make scientific and economic policies.
TanSat's observations will also be used to come up with new development plans that would address the demands of climate change and the carbon budget.
With the launch of the CO2 monitoring satellite, China has become the third country in the world after Japan and the U.S. to measure greenhouse gas emissions via spacecraft.