NASA has announced that it will cancel a greenhouse gas monitoring satellite due to anticipated costs and technical issues. It will instead investigate more efficient and cost-effective alternatives. The Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCarb) was to be positioned over the Americas. It would have monitored both the region’s concentration of carbon-bearing gases and the health of vegetation. GeoCarb was originally intended to be installed on a commercial satellite operated by SES S.A. SES S.A. is a Luxembourgish-French telecommunications company.
Due to technical difficulties, NASA sought a standalone spacecraft to carry the instrument before abandoning the mission. NASA has stated that they will work with the principal investigator team at the University of Oklahoma. It will bring the project to a successful conclusion.
According to the space agency, new approaches to monitoring greenhouse gas emissions that were not previously available when GeoCarb was conceived in the latter part of 2017 are now available.
The Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation or EMIT was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in July. It is capable of measuring atmospheric methane levels.
The space agency plans to supplement its greenhouse gas observations by prioritising a greenhouse gas mission as the first of its “Earth System Explorers” missions. It will obtain data from international and commercial partners. It will conduct additional airborne observations. It will also extend the operating life of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 instrument on board the ISS. The ISS began operating in 2019 and was expected to run for ten years.
NASA’s “Earth System Observatory” missions are set to launch by the end of the decade. It is designed to “provide a three-dimensional, holistic view of our planet to help better understand what its changes mean for humanity.”
Karen St. Germain, Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, stated that the agency “prioritises understanding how our home planet is changing. The greenhouse gases play a central role in that understanding.”