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Amir AlexanderJune 2, 2009

Early Data from Ibuki

by Amir Alexander

The Japanese Space Agency JAXA has released early data collected by the greenhouse gas monitoring satellite, Ibuki. Also known as GOSAT, Ibuki was launched on January 23 to measure carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere around the globe. The mission was designed to complement NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), which was launched on February 23 but failed to reach orbit. With OCO's loss, Ibuki will take on a much greater role in monitoring the main greenhouse gas generated by humans in the coming years.

The Ibuki data presented by JAXA is only preliminary, since the instruments on board the spacecraft are still being calibrated. In fact, the released data was collected on April 20 -- 28 as part of the calibration process. Even so, Ibuki's preliminary mapping of carbon dioxide distributions can provide a broad outline of the accurate data that canbe expected from the spacecraft down the road.

Ibuki's carbon dioxide map

Ibuki's carbon dioxide map

he first mapping of the global distribution of carbon dioxided by the Japanese spacecraft Ibuki, also known as GOSAT. The data was gathered between April 20 -28 while the spacecraft was callibrating its instruments.

s expected, the Ibuki's map shows higher distributions of carbon dioxide in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere. This is consistent with the fact that most major industrial and population centers are located in the northern hemisphere. The map also shows particularly high concentrations in northern China and, surprisingly, in central Africa. Mission controllers attribute this result to interference by local dust storms, and are working to solve the problem so as to produce accurate measurements in the future. Ibuki also collected data on the global distribution of methane, showing similar patterns to those of carbon dioxide.

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Amir Alexander
Amir Alexander

Writer and Editor for planetary.org
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