Image of Earth taken by Apollo astronauts

China launches CO2 monitoring satellite to track climate change

Image credit: NASA

China has launched a satellite to monitor the flow and distribution of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in an attempt to better understand and reduce its carbon footprint.

The 620kg TanSat was launched atop China’s Long March 2D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the northwestern Gobi Desert, according to news agency Xinhua.

The satellite, designed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will circle the Earth in a sun synchronous orbit at the altitude of 700 km.

It will take readings of global carbon dioxide every 16 days, accurate to at least 4 parts per million, and provide China's policymakers with independent data for three years.

According to a recent study, global greenhouse gas emissions stayed flat for the third consecutive year in 2016 larger thanks to the curbs achieved by China.

Xinhua claims that China is only the third country after Japan and the United States to monitor greenhouse gases with its own satellite.

The launch follows the United States joining China in formally ratifying the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions. It also comes as large sections of northern China have been shrouded in near-record levels of air pollution for most of the past week, disrupting flights, closing factories and schools, and forcing authorities to issue red alerts.

The rocket carrying TanSat also carried a high-resolution micro-nano satellite and two spectrum micro-nano satellites for agricultural and forestry monitoring, the agency added.

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