China blasts Long March 2D rocket carrying TanSat carbon-monitoring satellite

China has blasted Long March 2D rocket carrying TanSat carbon-monitoring satellite at 19:22 GMT (2:22 p.m. EST) on Wednesday from the Jiuquan launch base in north-west China. The Long March rocket placed the satellite in a near-circular polar orbit about 435 miles (700 kilometers) above Earth a few minutes later.

The satellite is aimed to track the greenhouse gases present on Earth and combat global climate change. Scientists will use near-infrared spectrometer aboard the TanSat satellite to track the concentration of CO2 present all around the globe. The equipment installed on the satellite is so sensitive that it can accurately measure up to 4 parts per million (ppm) of CO2.

Scientists will generate the global and regional map of distribution of carbon dioxide and will compare them with maps of previous months in order to check out the variation. Scientists from the Chinese space agency revealed that the TanSat will orbit Earth for next three years and will send data on global carbon dioxide levels every 16 days.

Yin Zengshan, chief designer of TanSat at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) micro-satellite research institute said that data obtained will help us in fighting against the fast changing climate and deteriorating environmental conditions due to global warming. The mission is in compliance with the Paris climate meet that focused on cutting down the carbon emissions. Scientists believe that the mission will help in reducing the CO2.

It is to be noticed that concentration of CO2 has gone up from 280 ppm to 400 ppm in last 15 decades which has increased the global average temperature by 0.7 degree Celsius. Thus, we need revolutionary steps before situation becomes too worse.

With the launch, China became the third nation to launch a carbon-monitoring satellite. “Since only the United States and Japan have carbon-monitoring satellites, it is hard for us to see first-hand data,” said Zhang Peng, TanSat application system commander and vice director of the National Satellite Meteorological Center, in a report by Xinhua. “Before, all our data came from ground stations. That kind of data is both local and limited, and does not cover the oceans.”

“The satellite has worldwide scope and will improve data collection,” Zhang said in Xinhua’s report on the mission. “Observing atmospheric CO2 by satellite demands cutting-edge technology, so TanSat is a major technological achievement for China.”

China started the development of satellite back in 2011 and it took them five years to completely build and launch the satellite. According to reports, Chinese scientists planned to put the observatory in in the A-train orbit. However, NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, which measures atmospheric carbon dioxide like TanSat, is already flying in the A-train constellation. Therefore, scientists later changed their mind placed TanSat in slightly offset orbit.

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