from the Calgary Herald: Canadian mini-satellite may solve carbon puzzle (h/t to WUWT reader “Freezedried”)
Tom Spears Canwestnews Service
Friday, February 27, 2009
While NASA lost a $285-million US satellite this week, a Canadian microsatellite that does the same job is chugging along happily in orbit –at 1/1,000th the cost.
The 30-centimetre-long University of Toronto satellite is searching for the “missing” carbon dioxide–the vast amount of Earth’s main greenhouse gas that somehow vanishes each year.
That’s what NASA’s OCO(orbiting carbon observatory) satellite would have done, if it had survived launch on Tuesday. The big difference: Canada built and launched its tiny version for $300,000.
The OCO launched but failed to reach orbit. (see WUWT story here)
Details on the hardware are here
Meanwhile, the U of T’s CanX-2 is cruising 700 kilometres above Earth “and functioning really well,” after some glitches that followed its launch last April, said Ben Quine, the director of space engineering at York University–which made an instrument aboard the tiny CanX. Its job, like OCO’s, is to find Earth’s missing greenhouse gas.
“The measurement principle is almost exactly the same as the one for the OCO,”he said. “It’s very sad when you lose a spacecraft, but it also means that we are the only people in orbit with one-kilometre resolution on the ground.”
That means York’s Argus instrument can look at details below. A Japanese satellite does the same job, but can’t look at features less than 10 kilometres wide.
The problem is that where carbon dioxide comes from, and where it is sucked out of the atmosphere, remains poorly understood.
“Clearly, if we’re going to do something about climate change, we need to understand where CO2 is produced and particularly where it’s absorbed.That’s much less clear,” Quine said.