Airbus Defence and Space

CarbonSat – On the trail of greenhouse gases

• Airbus Defence and Space is designing a new climate satellite for ESA
• CarbonSat project builds on experience gained with Sciamachy
• Decision on new environmental satellites will be taken in 2013

19 April 2012 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space company, will be pushing ahead with the preparation of CarbonSat, a new climate satellite for the European Space Agency (ESA), over the next 22 months. In early April 2012, ESA announced its decision to award Airbus Defence and Space a contract to define the CarbonSat satellite.

Under Airbus Defence and Space’s lead, an international team of engineers will move forward consolidating the various components that make up the CarbonSat satellite. CarbonSat will measure the global concentration and distribution of the two most important greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) – with unprecedented accuracy, providing climate scientists with essential data for climate analysis and for refining climate simulation computer models.

Carbon dioxide and methane are the two main greenhouse gases causing global climate change. Comprehensive knowledge of the sources and global distribution of these gases is a pre-requisite for predicting the Earth’s climate.

CarbonSat will provide measurement data with a spatial resolution better than 2x2km. For the first time, this should enable scientists to quantify localised sources of CO2 such as coal-fired power plants and emissions from cities as well as geological sources such as volcanoes. The mission will have the capability to achieve similar results for methane by quantifying emissions from sources such as landfill sites and large oil processing complexes, as well as supplying data on the little-researched issue of methane emissions from the world’s oceans.

CarbonSat will provide the first exhaustive surveys of small-scale sources of emissions around the globe, thereby making a significant contribution towards our ability to distinguish between natural emissions and those arising from human activity. The CarbonSat climate satellite will therefore also have an important role to play in the context of the international climate deals signed in Kyoto and Copenhagen.

CarbonSat is vying to be the eighth Earth Explorer mission of ESA’s Earth observation programme. It is designed to continue the process of tracking greenhouse gases from space initiated by the Envisat satellite´s Sciamachy spectrometer developed by Airbus Defence and Space.

As a leading satellite system specialist, Airbus Defence and Space has extensive expertise and operational mission experience in the field of environmental and climate satellites. Airbus Defence and Space was the prime contractor for Europe’s largest environmental satellite, Envisat, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on 1 March this year. In addition, Airbus Defence and Space is also the prime contractor for four of the six ESA Earth Explorer missions – Cryosat-2, Swarm, Aeolus and EarthCARE – as well as playing a major role in the other two missions, GOCE and SMOS. Airbus Defence and Space is also studying the MicroCarb mission for CNES, French space agency, with the aim to assess CO2 fluxes between carbon sources and sinks and improve our knowledge of carbon sinks.


You can download a picture of the Carbonsat satellite on our website:

Copyright : Airbus Defence and Space / 2012

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About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands

Airbus Defence and Space is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment;  Airbus Defence and Space for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.


Press contacts:

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                       Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Gregory Gavroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                                    Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Mathias Pikelj (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 7545 8 9123

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41