China successfully launches a CIOMP-constructed carbon dioxide monitoring satellite

China has successfully launched a monitoring satellite, known as TanSat, carrying two important payloads: a hyperspectral grating spectrometer for measuring carbon dioxide and a moderate resolution polarization imaging spectrometer for cloud and aerosol observations. The launch, on a Long March 2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi Desert, took place on December 22, 2016. Both payloads were constructed by the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences(CIOMP).


With TanSat, China joins Japan and the United States as a country with the capacity to monitor greenhouse gases via satellite. TanSat allows China to monitor global CO2 levels and their flux over seasonal time scales in key areas. This will improve our understanding of the contribution of CO2 to patterns of global climate change. The launch of TanSat means China can contribute even further to potential action to reduce carbon loads and to meaningful discussions during negotiations on carbon trading.


Scientists are now more certain than ever that humans are changing Earth’s climate. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, sea levels have risen, and Arctic sea ice has markedly diminished, among other climate-related changes. Quantitative monitoring of global carbon circulation can inform predictions about how much CO2 human activities will emit. CO2 emissions are dependent on factors such as how the global economy develops and how society’s production and consumption of energy changes in the coming decades. TanSat represents a concrete action on the part of the Ministry of Science and Technology to address climate change and its effects. Its global carbon dioxide observation satellite program, within the 12th Five Year Plan, aims to assemble a hyperspectral CO2 detector and a cloud and aerosol detector.


Since its beginning in 2011, the TanSat team has worked overtime on the overall program design and key technology research to finalize the satellite development and launch on schedule. Despite their young age – the average age of the group is 35, and Professor ZHENG YuQuan, project manager of the carbon dioxide detector, was 39 years old at the project’s start – the team members not only made key technological breakthroughs in the theoretical aspects of the satellite payloads, but also developed the load engineering technology. The researchers made world-class advances, such as manufacturing a high-reliability double-sided pointing mirror and undertaking high-precision on-ground calibration of the satellite’s functions. TanSat, with its highly specialized and technical underpinnings, is now performing at an advanced international level.


One of the most important features of a high-class carbon dioxide spectrometer is its spectral resolution, which the TanSat detector achieves up to 0.04 nm. The core factor in achieving high spectral resolution is the optical holographic diffraction gratings, which the TanSat team assembled on a carbon dioxide detector corresponding to three different spectral bands.


The cloud and aerosol detector also has an important role in adding to knowledge of climate change science. Global aerosol data help meteorologists to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting, and provide important data for the research of PM2.5, one of the main causes of air pollution. Professor YAN ChangXiang was project manager of the cloud and aerosol detector.


The launch of the TanSat satellite is a great first step towards comprehensive global carbon monitoring. When the payload begins its work within a fortnight of the launch, TanSat will be well on its way to completing its mission successfully and benefiting the people of the world.

Two payloads made by CIOMP(Image by CIOMP)

Make some related experiments(Image by CIOMP)

Research team(Image by CIOMP)


LIN Chao,associate professor


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