Innovative space-based climate assessment
The European Union has established stringent requirements for the monitoring from space of man-made greenhouse gases (GHGs). An EU-funded project is developing a miniaturised spectrometer to be mounted on small satellites. This will enable scientists to meet the specifications for GHG monitoring and ultimately help us to better understand climate change.
© Tom Bayer #184336648 2019, source:stock.adobe.com
Human-induced climate change is extremely concerning for people and governments worldwide. Technical challenges faced by current space-based GHG monitoring operations include measurement inconsistencies linked to the presence of aerosols in the atmosphere. Another demand involves the need to obtain frequently repeated GHG measurements at a reasonable cost.
The EU-funded SCARBO project is addressing these and other challenges linked to the monitoring of anthropogenic GHGs. For instance, the project team is undertaking the detailed design, analysis and modelling of a novel, miniaturised, GHG-monitoring, spectro-imaging instrument, known as 'NanoCarb'. The SCARBO concept involves mounting the NanoCarb instrument on a constellation of small satellites, together with an ultra-compact aerosol sensor and an additional high-end reference instrument.
Complex mission architecture, starting with the preliminary design of the NanoCarb instrument and encompassing details of the small satellite constellation, is being developed on the basis of specific user requirements. The concept is being experimentally validated through a campaign of airborne trials of instrument prototypes.
SCARBO partners believe their concept is very capable of delivering precise and highly accurate measurements while enabling more frequent revisits over sites of interest all to meet the strict EU requirements for monitoring man-made GHGs.
Importantly, SCARBO is addressing the monitoring of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), two critical gases known to play a role in climate change.
Significantly, the use of new miniaturised sensors together with small satellite platforms enables a significant cost reduction compared to current space-based systems, on both the manufacturing and launch side.
Altogether, the SCARBO project represents a very strong response to the key issue of climate change facing citizens on a global scale. The interest created by the project has also been underlined recently in an interview with the consortium by Nature journal.