Planned for launch in 2026, CO2Image is a carbon dioxide (CO2) measurement and monitoring mission designed and developed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). CO2Image aims to monitor facility-scale CO2 emissions, as well as to complement existing and planned Copernicus greenhouse gas monitoring missions, such as CO2M.
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CO2Image will carry a single instrument, a NIR/SWIR (Near Infrared/Shortwave Infrared) imaging spectrometer, known as the CO2 Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (COSIS). COSIS is a cross-nadir shortwave sounder developed by the Institute of Optical Sensor Systems at DLR.
COSIS is capable of imaging atmospheric column concentrations of CO2 at a ground resolution of 50 m x 50 m, with a swath width of 50 km. COSIS also has a spectral resolution between 1.0 nm - 1.3 nm in the shortwave infrared spectral range (1100 nm - 3000 nm). This allows measurement of point sources with emission rates below 1 Mt/year.
The satellite, once launched, is planned to operate in a sun-synchronous orbit with an altitude of 600 km.
Space and Hardware Components
The CO2Image mission will utilise a DLR Compact-Sat platform. The bus has a volume of one cubic metre and a mass of 200 kg. The platform contains an autonomous attitude determining processor, a 3-axis laser gyroscope, three pairs of magnetorquers and four reaction wheels for attitude control. The operation of the CO2Image satellite, once operational, will be handled by the DLR Space Operations facility, while scientific data will be processed, archived and provided by the Earth Observation Centre (EOC).
CO2Image is a demonstration mission developed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), planned for launch in 2026. The satellite will aim to measure atmospheric column concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), at the scale of individual small and medium scale power plants and industrial facilities. The mission will utilise a compact satellite platform, allowing for the potential expansion of the mission to include multiple sensors in orbit, providing real-time data services. CO2Image is being led by the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics, while instrument development is being undertaken by the DLR Institute of Optical Sensor Systems, and control and monitoring is handled by DLR’s Space Operations Facility. The mission will also aim to complement existing and planned greenhouse gas monitoring missions, such as the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Carbon Dioxide Monitoring (CO2M) mission and Sentinel-5P, which have coarser ground resolutions, as well as hyperspectral imaging missions, which suffer from spectroscopic interference errors. 3) 4) 5) 7) 12) 14)
CO2Image will use a DLR-developed Compact-Sat series bus. The bus has a volume of one cubic metre, and a mass of 200 kg. The selected bus is an adapted version of the platform used in the BIRD mission, shown in Figure 1. The bus has been altered to accommodate a larger sensor.
The spacecraft consists of aluminium and honeycomb structures, with an autonomous attitude determining processor, a 3-axis laser gyroscope, three pairs of magnetorquers and four reaction wheels for attitude control. The DLR developed on-board computer (OBC) provides extensive filtering and debugging techniques for monitoring and Fault Detection, as well as meeting Isolation and Recovery (FDIR) requirements. 1) 9) 10) 14)
The CO2Image mission is planned for launch in 2026. Once launched, the mission will operate in a sun-synchronous orbit at an of altitude 600 km.
- June 29, 2022: CO2Image entered mission phase B, being tested for a planned launch in 2026 7)
- June 26, 2022: The demonstration mission was presented at the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) in Berlin 7)
- July 15, 2020: CO2Image entered phase A of its mission, competing with another payload to be launched aboard the DLR CompactSat platform. Several DLR institutes are working with the University of Heidelberg to adapt the instrument to the proposed bus. 8)
COSIS (CO2 Sensing Imaging Spectrometer)
The CO2Image mission will carry a single instrument, a NIR/SWIR (Near Infrared/Shortwave Infrared) imaging spectrometer, known as the CO2 Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (COSIS). This cross-nadir shortwave sounder has been developed by the DLR Institute of Optical Sensor Systems. The instrument has a mass of 90 kg with a 15 cm aperture diameter, and aims to measure CO2 source emissions, at a spatial resolution of 50 m x 50 m and with a swath width of 50 km. COSIS also has a spectral resolution of 1.0 nm - 1.3 nm, in the shortwave infrared spectral region, which is defined between 1100 nm - 3000 nm, with resolving power of 1200 and FWHM (Full-Width-Half-Maximum) for 2.5 pixels of 1.37 nm. The instrument is capable of imaging at higher resolutions than many other greenhouse gas observation missions, as demonstrated in Figure 2.
50 m x 50 m
1.0 nm - 1.3 nm
Shortwave infrared (SWIR): 1100 nm - 3000 nm
Due to its fine ground resolution and moderate spectral resolution, COSIS is capable of measurement of point sources with emission rates below 1 Mt/year. This means that CO2Image will allow individual localised sources of CO2 emissions to be resolved. 2) 5) 11) 12) 13)
The control and monitoring of the CO2Image satellite, once operational, will be handled by DLR’s Space Operations facility, while science data is processed, archived and provided by the Earth Observation Centre (EOC). EOC has previous experience in greenhouse gas monitoring missions, such as SCIAMACHY and Sentinel-5p, which, alongside expertise in the calibration of Earth observing optical instruments, can be drawn on across the course of the mission. 6) 7) 8)
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2) Block, Adam, and Jim DeLillo. “What is the Full Width at Half Maximum (FWHM) and why is it so important?” Telescope Live, URL: https://telescope.live/blog/what-full-width-half-maximum-fwhm-and-why-it-so-important
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8) “Institute for Atmospheric Physics - DLR takes a closer look at global CO2 emissions with a dedicated mission.” Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, 29 June 2022, URL: https://www.dlr.de/pa/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-2342/6725_read-77610/
9) “Institute for Atmospheric Physics - Towards spaceborne monitoring of CO2 emissions from power plants – DLR mission now in phase A.” Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, 15 July 2020, URL: https://www.dlr.de/pa/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-2342/6725_read-66903/
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13) “WMO OSCAR | Details for Instrument COSIS.” WMO OSCAR, 24 October 2022, URL: https://space.oscar.wmo.int/instruments/view/cosis
14) “WMO OSCAR | Satellite: CO2Image.” WMO OSCAR, 24 October 2022, URL: https://space.oscar.wmo.int/satellites/view/co2image
15) “Zooming in on localized carbon dioxide emissions from space: the CO2Image demonstrator.” ResearchGate, URL: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/356109280_Zooming_in_on_localized_carbon_dioxide_emissions_from_space_the_CO2Image_demonstrator
The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (email@example.com).