European Satellite Measures Earth's Co2 From Space

03 March 2002
Posted by Chris Smith.

Nature online 28th FebEurope's largest ever environmental monitoring satellite was launched successfully last week. This was quite a feat - the new satellite, ENVISAT, weighs 8.5 tonnes and is the size of London bus! It's equipped with a number of state-of-the-art scientific instruments and cost around 1.3 billion Pounds. It will make the first ever measurements of the earth's carbon-dioxide levels from space. Carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect, but until now carbon-dioxide levels could only been measured from the ground. But ENVISAT will be much more accurate - scientists hope to learn how much carbon-dioxide humans produce (through burning fossil fuels like coal and gas) and how much is absorbed by the oceans. This information is needed urgently so that we can set up international agreements to prevent climate change.

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