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Thales Alenia Space completes MicroCarb satellite to map Earth's CO2
Monitoring CO2 levels is crucial in the fight against climate change, and Earth observation space missions such as MicroCarb or CO2M play a vital role in this regard.
Thales Alenia Space completes MicroCarb satellite to map Earth's CO2
by Erica Marchand
Paris, France (SPX) Feb 06, 2024

Thales Alenia Space has recently announced the successful completion of the assembly, integration, and test (AIT) phase for the MicroCarb satellite, marking a crucial step towards its launch. This significant milestone was achieved at RAL Space in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, confirming the satellite's readiness for its upcoming mission to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

The MicroCarb mission is a pioneering European project aimed at enhancing the understanding of carbon flux on Earth. Funded by France's PIA investment program and managed by the French space agency CNES, MicroCarb will serve as a critical tool in the global effort to combat climate change. This initiative is part of a bilateral agreement signed in 2014 between France and the United Kingdom, showcasing a strong collaboration in space programs.

Following its successful AIT phase, the satellite has been transported to Thales Alenia Space's facility in Toulouse, France, for storage. It will remain there until it is ready to be shipped for launch. The MicroCarb satellite, based on CNES's Myriade bus, includes an onboard measurement instrument, a dispersive spectrometer, provided by Airbus Defence and Space. This instrument underwent rigorous environmental and thermal vacuum tests, as well as checks of its propulsion system, ensuring its qualification for space.

MicroCarb's mission is to map carbon sources and sinks across the globe, including cities, forests, and oceans, from space. It aims to detect changes in carbon flux on the planet's surface, thereby contributing valuable data to inform climate policy decisions. The satellite is equipped with a scanning observation mode, enabling precise measurements of CO2 levels in Earth's atmosphere with an accuracy of 1 molecule per million molecules of dry air (1 ppm) and a rectangular pixel size of 4.5 km x 9 km.

The importance of monitoring CO2 levels cannot be overstated in the context of climate change. Earth observation space missions like MicroCarb and the upcoming CO2M satellites, part of Europe's Copernicus program, are essential in this regard. Thales Alenia Space, which provided the payloads for these missions, aligns with its "Space for Life" aspiration, emphasizing the use of space technology for a more sustainable life on Earth.

The upcoming launch of the MicroCarb satellite represents a critical step forward in the utilization of space technology to better understand and address the challenges posed by climate change. Through its innovative approach to measuring atmospheric CO2, MicroCarb is set to play a vital role in the global effort to monitor and mitigate the impacts of carbon emissions on our planet.

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