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Using an H2A rocket, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Jan. 24 launched the world’s first artificial satellite to observe greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide. The satellite, named Ibuki (Breath), is scheduled to function for at least five years. It will make great contributions to deepening the understanding of global warming and to devising ways to combat it.

In February, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration will launch a satellite to observe carbon-dioxide emissions for two years.

Ibuki will greatly enhance observation of greenhouse-gas emissions. At present, carbon dioxide is monitored at 282 land-based stations, most in industrialized nations. Ibuki, orbiting at an altitude of 666 km, will collect data on carbon dioxide and methane-gas emissions at 56,000 locations worldwide every third day by using ultra-red ray sensors.

It can collect accurate data on carbon-dioxide emissions from industrial areas, methane-gas emissions from wetlands in Siberia and from natural gas pipelines, as well as carbon-dioxide absorption by forests and oceans. This data will make simulation of global warming more reliable and stimulate global efforts to reduce the impact of global warming.

The H2A rocket also put seven other satellites into orbit. One of them is a JAXA technical demonstration satellite. The remaining six consist of a satellite made by a consortium of nine small and medium-size factories in Higashi Osaka; three satellites separately made by Tohoku University, Tokyo University and Kagawa University; a satellite made by a systems development company; and a small 15-cm-by-15-cm- by-15-cm satellite constructed by the Tokyo Metropolitan College of Industrial Technology.

The six satellites will be used for such purposes as collecting data for lightning prediction, observing luminescent phenomena in the upper atmosphere and photographing Earth with a telephotographic camera. JAXA launched the six satellites free of charge. Such initiative will encourage participation by more people in space development projects while strengthening the base of Japan’s space development.

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