May 24, 2012

OHB System To Define "CarbonSat" Environmental Satellite Mission For ESA

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

(24 May 2012) An industrial syndicate lead-managed by OHB System AG, a member of the European Space and Technology Group OHB AG, has commenced work on the definition phase of the “CarbonSat” environmental satellite for the European Space Agency (ESA)

Over the next 20 months, the Bremen-based company will be conducting studies on the mission as a whole as well as the satellite in its capacity as the prime contractor of a “CarbonSat” system definition study. The results of the definition phase may be used to implement the “CarbonSat” environmental satellite if this is selected by ESA as the eighth Earth Explorer mission under its Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP), “CarbonSat” would then collect reliable data on the emission of two greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, and their concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere around the world for evaluation. The contract value for this study amounts to EUR 2,5 million.

The definition study “CarbonSat” is one of two parallel studies within the ESA “Living Planet” Programme for Earth observation. OHB System’s partners on this project are Thales Alenia Space (France) for the definition of the measurement instrument, GMV (Spain) for the definition of the ground segment and the mission operations, and OHB’s affiliate CGS (Italy) for the definition of the satellite platform subsystems.

The measurement technique employed in “CarbonSat” is based on the “Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography” (SCIAMACHY) measurement instrument, which has been successfully measuring greenhouse gas concentrations on board ESA’s Environmental Satellite “ENVISAT” for ten years until its failure a few weeks ago. OHB System played a crucial part in the development and integration of SCIAMACHY.

The increase in greenhouse gases is one of the causes of global warming. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are the two main greenhouse gases, with CO2 considered by scientists to be responsible for 60% (and CH4for 20%) of the rise in global temperatures since the industrial revolution. However, the results achieved to date indicate that more precise and frequent measurements are required for greater accuracy in modelling the sources and sinks of these two gases.

For this purpose, OHB System and the Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) at the University of Bremen working with the support of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the economic development agency Wirschaftsförderung Bremen had already devised a new measuring system based on a satellite constellation with enhanced sensors ahead of the ESA study. The concepts and technologies developed are world leaders. With CarbonSat it will be possible, for the first time, to collect frequent measurements at high spatial resolution in order to create a reliable data base for more accurate forecasts of climatic change as a foundation for political and economic decisions.

(source: OHB System)