Our University working with Chinese Academy of Science on carbon dioxide monitoring satellite mission

China has launched its first satellite dedicated to the monitoring of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

The satellite was successfully launched on 22 December 2016 into a low Earth orbit.

The mission is called ‘TanSat’ (‘Tan’ means Carbon in Chinese) and is funded by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

The data acquired by the satellite will help to better understand where CO2 is absorbed and where it is emitted. This information is important to help predicting the future levels of atmospheric carbon and future climate change.  

The Earth Observation Science Group of the Department of Physics and Astronomy led by Dr Hartmut Boesch has a long-standing collaboration with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) in support of the development of the retrieval methods for the TanSat mission necessary to extract the CO2 information from the satellite measurements with sufficient precision.

TanSat will join the Japanese GOSAT satellite and NASAs Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) in the international efforts to observe atmospheric carbon. A European CO2 mission is planned for 2025. 

Dr Boesch says: "Satellites provide us with a unique global picture of the atmospheric CO2 distribution. However, the analysis of the data is still a challenge and we are looking forward to work with our Chinese colleagues to help making TanSat a success."