ABB Interferometer blasts into space to stop global warming

From the indefatigable Laura Patrick at ABB:

ABB interferometer to blast into space aboard the IBUKI (GOSAT) satellite

Quebec City, Canada, January 21, 2009 - ABB, the leader in power and automation technologies, is pleased to see the final phase of the GOSAT (Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite) project come to fruition. The principal component of the Japanese satellite is a spatial interferometer developed by ABB.

Recently baptized "IBUKI" (meaning "breathe" in Japanese), the satellite will be launched into space on Thursday evening, January 22, at 10:30 p.m. EST (12:30 p.m. on January 23, Japan time). Being implemented as part of the Kyoto Protocol, the GOSAT mission is an initiative of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the National Institute for Environmental Studies, and Japan's Ministry of the Environment. The project will use the world's first satellite to observe greenhouse gases from space, particularly CO2 and methane.

The excitement at ABB in Quebec City in anticipation of the launch can only be described as intense as the satellite will be carrying an interferometer developed by an expert team of more than 15 specialists, comprised primarily of mechanical, electrical and software engineers, physicians, opticians and technicians.

"For us, the launch of the IBUKI satellite is the culmination of all our efforts," said Marc-André Soucy, Remote Sensing Industry Manager with ABB Analytical’s business unit in Quebec City. "I am proud of the project team because it successfully designed one of the top performing interferometers in the history of space flight. This accomplishment strengthens our sense of pride for being part of ABB, a company that is recognized as a pioneer within the high-tech sector in Quebec."

The satellite launch can be viewed live on JAXA's Web site at http://www.jaxa.jp/countdown/f15/live/index_e.html

The $10 million contract was awarded to ABB Analytical in August 2005 by NEC TOSHIBA Space Systems, the principal supplier of mission instruments to the GOSAT program. ABB delivered the unit in June 2007.

The company's interferometer is a system capable of transmitting accurate daily atmospheric measurements of global carbon dioxide and methane gas distribution from a distance of 666 kilometers above the Earth. These measurements will be used to record and evaluate gas levels in the atmosphere. The measurement processes use the "spectral signature" of molecules emitted by CO2 and other gases, which makes them easy to identify and quantify thanks to infrared technology allowing for the reading of the signature and the establishment of molecular density. By taking readings at various points of orbit, latitude, longitude and altitude, it is possible to generate profiles defining the concentration level of each gas in the atmosphere.
The GOSAT program is also important because the number of Earth stations for observing carbon dioxide has been limited to date, most notably due to the uneven distribution of the gas on the planet. The IBUKI satellite will be the first observation station capable of consistently and thoroughly assuring the monitoring of greenhouse gas daily at 56,000 observation points. As such, scientists will be able to combine the global observation data sent from space with the data already collected on Earth.

The development of the interferometer onboard the IBUKI was inspired by the ABB-built payload supplied to the Canadian Space Agency's ACE/SciSat-1 satellite. In orbit for more than five years now, the ACE/SciSat-1 offers performance that has exceeded the expectations of the entire scientific community.

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