Articles & Case Studies

ABB delivers main component for world’s first satellite built to measure greenhouse gases

Posted: Wednesday 4th July 2007

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, is proud to announce it has successfully delivered a spatial interferometer which is the main component on the new Japanese satellite GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite).

The satellite, which will be launched in 2008 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will enable Japanese scientists to study and measure greenhouse gases in support of the Kyoto protocol made it mandatory for developed nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions between 2008 and 2012.

The $10 million contract was awarded to ABB Analytical Business Unit in Quebec in August 2005 by NEC TOSHIBA Space Systems, the primary mission instrument supplier to Japan’s Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) program.

“We are delighted that one of our core applications, greenhouse gas measurements, will play an essential role in this system. In addition, I am very proud of the project team which has designed one of the most efficient interferometers in space history, all within a tight timeframe," says Marc-André Soucy, Manager of ABB's Remote Sensing Industry.

The 15-person team included mechanical, electrical and software engineers (data processing), physicians, opticians and technicians. The new instrument incorporates some of the features of an ABB-built payload currently in operation on the satellite ACE/SciSat-1 that was developed for the Canadian Space Agency.

The Michelson interferometer of the Fourier Transform Spectrometer is a system that will collect and transmit global distribution in carbon dioxide and methane density – every 3 days cycle -- precise atmospheric measurements from 666 kilometres above the earth. The measurements will be used to chart and evaluate the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide and methane levels. GOSAT’s launch is expected to be the first mission to measure global CO2 and CH4 levels.

ABB’s measuring process takes advantage of the “spectral signature” of the molecules that carbon dioxide and other gases emit, making them easy to identify and measure with infrared technology. The ABB spectrometer uses infrared technology to “read” the signature and establish the density of the molecules. By taking the readings at different orbital points – latitude, longitude and altitude – profiles are created to establish the concentration level of each gas in the atmosphere.

GOSAT is also important because the number of effective ground-based carbon dioxide observation stations has thus far been limited, mainly because they are poorly distributed throughout the world. “GOSAT will be the first observatory that will steadily and globally monitor greenhouse gases at 56,000 observation points every 3 days.” says Takashi Hamazaki, Project Manager, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in Japan. “Scientists will be able to combine global observation data sent from space with data already being gathered on land.”

ABB Analytical Business Unit, located in Quebec City, designs, manufactures and markets high-performance FT Mid-IR/Near-IR analytical system solutions and spectrometers for Petroleum, Chemical, Life Science, and Remote Sensing/Aerospace markets. The company also markets analyzers for hydrogen and inclusion measurement in liquid aluminium. More information is available at

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