National / Science & Health

Japan puts upgraded greenhouse gas observation satellite Ibuki-2 into orbit

by Sarah Suk

Staff Writer

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched on Monday an H-IIA rocket carrying Japan’s Ibuki-2 greenhouse gas observation satellite and an Earth observation satellite made by United Arab Emirates, putting both into orbit.

In a live JAXA webcast, the rocket was seen lifting off at 1:08 p.m. from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. The satellites were subsequently separated from the vehicle some distance apart from each other.

Ibuki-2 is the successor to Ibuki, which was launched in 2009 as the world’s first satellite dedicated to monitoring greenhouse gases.

Officially named Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, or Gosat, the Ibuki series is a joint project of JAXA, the Environment Ministry and the National Institute for Environmental Studies. The satellite is designed to gather data on the densities of carbon dioxide and methane at 56,000 locations in the Earth’s atmosphere to help international efforts to fight global warming.

The data will be used to see how countries are doing in terms of fulfilling their commitments to reduce greenhouse gases under the 2015 Paris agreement, an international framework aimed at keeping the rise in global average temperature to within 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

JAXA says the second version of Ibuki has higher levels of accuracy due to the enhanced performance of observation sensors installed aboard and can also measure densities of carbon monoxide and PM2.5, which refers to toxic particles measuring 2.5 microns in diameter or less.

The mission allows governments and international organizations to work with accurate and consistent data for carbon dioxide and methane concentrations when making comparisons, and for evaluating the performance of each country under the Paris accord.

Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada said in a statement he expects Ibuki-2 to bring dramatic improvements in the accuracy of observations, to play a role in continued efforts to promote climate change measures and to advance scientific knowledge about global warming.

“The Environment Ministry will work with related organizations to contribute toward improving the transparency of climate change measures of each country based on the Paris agreement, fully utilizing data obtained from Ibuki-2,” Harada said.

The H-IIA rocket, launched by JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., also carried the UAE’s KhalifaSat remote sensing Earth observation satellite.

KhalifaSat is the first satellite built in the UAE by local engineers and the country’s third Earth observation satellite following DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, both built under a partnership with a South Korean manufacturer and launched in 2009 and 2013, respectively.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center’s KhalifaSat is designed to capture detailed images of the Earth.

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