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What Should We Learn from GOSAT Satellite (Ibuki)?
Blog...What Should We Learn from GOSAT Satellite (Ibuki)?

What Should We Learn from GOSAT Satellite (Ibuki)?

Green News
cloudy sky with satellite
In this article, we’ll talk about GOSAT satellites such as Ibuki, their benefits, and their potential pitfalls in the fight against climate change.
Green News
cloudy sky with satellite

As technology continues to advance, one of our greatest advantages is to use our newfound knowledge and gadgets to monitor emissions from space – such as with the GOSAT satellites like Ibuki. 

GOSAT satellites such as Ibuki are meant to help observe greenhouse gasses from above Earth – but are they always as helpful as they aim to be?

In this article, we’ll talk about GOSAT satellites such as Ibuki, their benefits, and their potential pitfalls in the fight against climate change.

What is Ibuki, the GOSAT Satellite?

GOSAT, specifically Ibuki, is a Japanese satellite that works to measure greenhouse gasses currently present in the air through the use of various advanced sensors. 

👉 GOSAT stands for, “The Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite” – and Ibuki translates to “breath” or “puff of air” in Japanese. 

Officially launched in January of 2009 on behalf of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (or JAXA) – the main goal of Ibuki, a GOSAT satellite, is to observe and collect data regarding the current level of greenhouse gasses, carbon dioxide, and methane in the atmosphere.

youtube screenshot
Ibuki was the world’s first greenhouse gas observing satellite, and what’s even more impressive is that it has been operating ever since its initial release.

GOSAT satellites such as Ibuki have been able to be successful thanks to new, specialised technology that allows for precise data collection. 

How do GOSAT satellites like Ibuki work?

The main mission for GOSAT satellites like Ibuki is to monitor where greenhouse gas emissions come from and carbon sinks across various subcontinents – such as the Asia-Pacific region, Eurasia, or the part of Asia containing India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Seeing as Ibuki has been successful in observing and measuring the concentration of GHG emissions for almost 15 years now, this can lead many to wonder how this GOSAT satellite continues to collect such detailed information. This is due to the fact that GOSAT, or Ibuki, has imaging multispectral radiometers. 

However, this can prove difficult when there are clouds that compromise visibility. Luckily, GOSAT now has an updated sibling satellite – called GOSAT-2.

👉 GOSAT-2 works by making use of a Thermal And Near-infrared Sensor specifically designed to monitor carbon dioxide – and is made up of a Fourier transform spectrometer (or FTS) and a Cloud and Aerosol Imager (or CAI). These pieces of technology assist GOSAT in gathering data and the way in which various particles and gasses move about our atmosphere, and is an improvement upon the imaging multispectral radiometers present in Ibuki.

youtube screenshot

GOSAT works by flying around 666 kilometers (or around 413 miles) above Earth, where GOSAT can see the entire planet – all 56,000 points.

Whether you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or enjoying a croissant near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, GOSAT is able to spot you, or at the very least – pinpoint your closest location.

Molecules of carbon dioxide and methane absorb light into different colors, and GOSAT works to determine where these molecules are by observing the sunlight reflected onto Earth – where these wavelengths will reveal various colors and subsequently the amount of greenhouse gas emissions present in the atmosphere.

👉 Thanks to its continuous orbit, over time – GOSAT collects data on how the concentration, carbon dioxide, methane, and greenhouse gas emissions change in our atmosphere.

satellite in space

What are the benefits of GOSAT satellites?

GOSAT satellites, and Ibuki in particular, have already proven extremely useful and indispensable throughout its almost fifteen years of existence.

Here are just a few of the ways the GOSAT satellite Ibuki has helped our planet:

  • Assisted policymakers in helping to make new climate legislation 
  • Collected various data that helps climate researchers and scientists better understand the impact human activities have on the environment
  • Improved our understanding of where GHG emissions come from and how to rectify them moving forward
  • Captured once-in-a-lifetime events such as solar eclipses and volcanic eruptions

👉 The GOSAT series of satellites can help the world work towards carbon neutrality and the goals depicted in the Paris Agreement – as it can provide us with unforeseen insight.

Specific examples of the data already collected on behalf of GOSAT satellites such as Ibuki include the Australian wildfires, estimates for monthly carbon dioxide concentration, detailed data on methane emissions, images of volcanic eruptions in Iceland, greenhouse gas density – and even a solar eclipse in Japan.

Think of GOSAT satellites such as Ibuki a lot like trying to mend a part of your own body that you don’t have visible access to alone. GOSAT satellites work in the same way by observing the greenhouse gas emissions that we can’t see with our naked eyes from Earth.

Without a GOSAT satellite such as Ibuki, it would be difficult to pinpoint the source 

👉 Did you know? The Japanese GOSAT satellite “Ibuki” won the 19th Nikkei Global Environmental Technology Award for its successful efforts in providing data and information that can help the world move towards greater environmental protection and sustainable development.


How could GOSAT satellites be bad for the environment?

While environmental satellites can provide us with otherwise-gone-unnoticed data about carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gasses – there is one potential setback every time we send a satellite up to space.

If satellites are to get lost in orbit and are unable to be retrieved, they will ultimately classify as space junk – which isn’t for either the environment or the continuation of space exploration. This is because lost satellites that end up lost in space can compromise the viewing capabilities of other existing satellites still in orbit, and at the same time – release various chemicals into the atmosphere and contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer

👉 Other challenges of the GOSAT series include ensuring that the data collection will still be accurate amidst natural disasters – such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

As climate change intensifies, there is no telling how these weather patterns will look from space and if the GOSAT satellites will still have a clear view of the molecules and gasses they observe – and if the current sensors on GOSAT-2 will still be able to penetrate through these clouds.

However, seeing as GOSAT has made it a priority to implement sensory technology to allow for visibility even through clouds – it is viable to believe that potential space junk remains as the greatest threat to the GOSAT satellites.  

view of earth from above space

What is important to remember about GOSAT satellites?

The issue with satellites sent to space specifically to monitor environmental circumstances is that some may view it as a solution to climate change, when in reality – a mere satellite cannot change our human behaviors that are contributing to excess emissions.

👉 It is imperative to recognise that GOSAT satellites such as Ibuki are not an answer to solving climate change – but more so a tool that can help us make hard decisions.

The information collected from GOSAT satellites should be used to collect information and make adjustments from there. The concept is the same as any time you receive information with the intent of making improvements, such as your company receiving an ESG score or an estimate for your carbon footprint.

Learning of this information does not automatically mean you have suddenly become a more sustainable or eco-friendly company, it merely means that now you have the starting point data to implement the necessary actions to improve upon your current situation. The same goes for the GOSAT satellites.
person taking notes

Is it worth it to keep investing in GOSAT satellites like Ibuki?

Given the potential to wreak havoc on the environment, some may wonder if the efforts spent to develop and send these GOSAT satellites into space is worth the trouble. 

Well, think about the first iPhone – wasn’t it clunkier, slower, and didn’t have the best camera?

The only reason we have the stronger and sleeker iPhones that we do today is because Apple had the first iPhone model to build off and improve upon. Even more so, the iPhone inspired other Apple products to be made – such as the Apple Watch or the iPad. 

👉 The same goes for GOSAT satellites. In fact, Ibuki, or the original GOSAT satellite launched into orbit on January 23rd, 2009 – has actually inspired a series of GOSAT Satellites.

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Essentially, Ibuki now has a new older sibling and partner in crime to help collect even more precise environmental data – which would’ve never been created if it weren’t for the original GOSAT satellite. 

Think of why people who are sick continue to fight even when the current medicine cannot cure them. It’s because science is always advancing, and the only way to have a shot at being around for future advances in medicine is to work with the one you currently have. The same goes for GOSAT and all other types of environmental satellites. We have yet to see the full technological capabilities of satellites such as GOSAT, and we will only see their abilities progress if we continue to invest time, money, and research into their evolution.

In fact, plans to release future GOSAT satellites have already been made. 

👉 New developments for Ibuki and GOSAT are already underway, such as with the GOSAT-GW – or, “The Global Observing Satellite for Greenhouse Gasses and Water Cycle”. 

This new and improved Japanese observation satellite made in partnership between The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (or JAXA) and The Japanese Ministry of Environment (or MOE) is set to not only monitor and collect data on greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere, but will also allow us to gain greater insight on the world’s water cycle and ultimately – better understand the progression of climate change.

GOSAT-GW is currently planned for a launch in 2024.

The effects of climate change need to be watched with a close eye now more than ever before. In combination with effort and future technological advances, GOSAT could prove itself even more useful – and maybe even inspire greater strides for future climate change mitigation measures. 

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about load shedding has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

It can be overwhelming to figure out how to implement energy efficiency or renewable energy sources into your business model, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help. Click here to schedule a demo to see how Greenly can help you find ways to improve energy efficiency and decrease the dependency on fossil fuels in your own company.

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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