(Photo courtesy JAXA)
The IBUKI, which means "breath," will circle the globe every 100 minutes at an altitude of some 670 kilometers (416 miles) and will monitor the levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane at 56,000 locations.
The satellite will acquire data covering the entire planet every three days and this data will be shared with other space and scientific organizations.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, launched the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) at 12:54 pm Japan Standard Time from the Tanegashima Space Center.
GOSAT has three major mission objectives. The first is to monitor the density of greenhouse gases precisely and frequently worldwide.
The second is to study the absorption and emission levels of greenhouse gases per continent or large country over a certain period of time.
And the third objective is to develop and establish advanced technologies that are essential for precise greenhouse gas observations.
[Elsewhere, JAXA reports that information products will be available to the publis "after the validation phase following the launch of the satellite." The GOSAT Data Handline Facility will also compile observation requests from users and forward them to JAXA.
In about a month NASA plans to launch a related project called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO). -jlt]
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