GOSAT makes world greener

ABB has successfully delivered the main component, a spatial interferometer, for a new Japanese satellite designed to observe greenhouse gases.

The Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT), to be launched next year by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will be used to study and measure greenhouse gases in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012.

The Michelson interferometer of the Fourier Transform Spectrometer is a system that will measure carbon dioxide and methane density with atmospheric measurements from 666km above the earth.

‘GOSAT will be the first observatory that will steadily and globally monitor greenhouse gases at 56,000 observation points every three days,’ said Takashi Hamazaki, project manager at JAXA. ‘Scientists will be able to combine global observation data sent from space with data already being gathered on land.’

Using infrared technology, the satellite will detect and measure the ‘spectral signature’ of the molecules emitted by carbon dioxide and other gases to determine the density of the molecules.

By taking the readings at different orbital points, latitude, longitude and altitude, scientists will be able to create profiles to establish the concentration level of each gas in the atmosphere. The GOSAT will be the first mission to measure global carbon dioxide and methane levels.

A team of 15 engineers and technicians developed the instrument, which incorporates some of the features of an ABB software currently in operation on the ACE/SciSat-1 satellite that was developed for the Canadian Space Agency.

NEC TOSHIBA Space Systems ordered the $10m component from ABB Analytical Business Unit in Quebec in 2005.