Early on Thursday, China launched its first mini-satellite dedicated to the carbon dioxide detection and monitoring at 15:22 UTC using a Long March-2D launch vehicle. Launch of TanSat occurred from the LC43/603 launch complex of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert. Hours after it lifted nearly a week-long red alert for the worst smog that engulfed about 40 cities in the country.
This was the 243rd mission of the Long March series rockets. Besides the rocket also carried a high-resolution micro-nano satellite and two spectrum micro-nano satellites for agricultural and forestry monitoring.
The launch follows the United States joining China in formally ratifying the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions. The Paris agreement on climate change came into force on November 4, with more than 100 countries committed to reduce their carbon emission. It also comes as large sections of northern China have been shrouded in near-record levels of air pollution for most of the past week, disrupting flights, closing factories and schools, and forcing authorities to issue red alerts.
China is the third country after Japan and the US to monitor greenhouse gases through its own satellite. The 620 kg satellite was sent into a sun synchronous orbit about 700 kms above the earth and will monitor the concentration, distribution and flow of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, Yin Zengshan, chief designer of TanSat at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) micro-satellite research institute said.
The satellite will help us understanding climate change and provide China’s policy makers with independent data. TanSat will take readings of global carbon dioxide every 16 days, accurate to at least 4 parts per million. The rocket carrying TanSat also carried a high-resolution micro-nano satellite and two spectrum micro-nano satellites for agricultural and forestry monitoring, the report said.
The new satellite will enable China to obtain emissions data first-hand and share it with researcher worldwide. The satellite can trace the sources of greenhouse gases and help evaluate whether countries are fulfilling their commitments.
The TanSat project, funded by MOST (Ministry of Science and Technology) of China, was proposed in 2010, being officially started in January 2011. ‘Tan’ is the Chinese word for ‘Carbon’.