China launches its first CO2-monitoring satellite

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/22 15:03:39

China launched its first carbon dioxide monitoring satellite early Thursday, a move that experts said will contribute to global research on climate change and enable China to have a bigger role in this field.

The satellite was launched on a Long March-2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu Province, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The 620-kilogram satellite TanSat was sent into orbit 700 kilometers above Earth and will monitor the concentration, distribution and flow of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Yin Zengshan, chief designer of TanSat, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

On a three-year mission, TanSat will thoroughly examine global carbon dioxide levels every 16 days, accurate to at least 4 ppm (parts per million).  

China is the third country after Japan and the US to launch such a satellite respectively. Japan launched one in 2009 and the US in 2014.

The Chinese satellite has a higher accuracy than the one launched by Japan because it carries cloud and aerosol detectors that could minimize interference and make detection more accurate, Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based aerospace expert, told the Global Times.

The satellite can also monitor areas unreachable by ground monitors, such as the desert, polar regions and oceans, to provide more accurate and wider information about global carbon emissions, Pang added.

China will have a bigger role in global climate negotiations, as the satellite can provide more first-hand information about greenhouse gas emissions around the world, said Pang.

The satellite can also contribute to global research on climate change, which shows China is acting as a responsible major power, he added.

China's carbon dioxide emissions are expected to peak around 2030, with emissions per unit of GDP to be cut by 60 percent of 2005 levels. A national carbon trading market will open next year.

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