China launched their latest research satellite, TanSat (known also as Carbonsat) with mission dedicated to measuring level of carbon dioxide in atmosphere. Satellite will operate for next 3 years from circular orbit with altitude of 700 km with inclination at 98.2º.

Mission of the Tansat is mainly objected on research useful in protecting natural environment. Measuring level of carbon dioxide in the center of the attention of many organizations and agencies around the world, mainly because its level is rising since 1959, when it was measured for the first time. China, which recently started to pay more attention to protecting own natural environment, also started to incorporate latest technologies and engage different organizations to this purpose. Carbonsat is good example:  it was created by the initiative of Ministry of Science and Technology, designed and manufactured by one of the most experienced scientific institutions in China: Shanghai Institute of Microsystems and Information Technology (SIMIT). Satellite will send data to ground segment operated by the National Satellite Meteorological Center of China Meteorological Administration. Whole project was coordinated by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which was also contracted for delivering payload.

Launch was conducted yesterday at 19:22 UTC from LC43/603 launch complex at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Launch vehicle was  Long March 2D rocket. Additional payload were three nanosatellites: Spark-01, Spark-02 and Yijian. Unfortunately CNSA has not unveiled any details on these satellites. Satellite weight at the start was around 500 kg. It was equipped with two deployable solar arrays and its dimensions were 185 cm x 150 cm 180 cm with folded arrays.

TanSat main payload are scientific devices. First is  high-resolution Carbon Dioxide Spectrometer which measures the near-infrared absorption by CO2 – CarbonSpec. It was designed by Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics (Chinese Academy of Sciences), in Changchun. It is able to measure absorption of CO2 at 1.61 µm,  at 2.06 µm and O2 at 0.76 µm. Footprint of device is 2 km x 2 km with swatch of 20 km. Second instrument is Cloud and Aerosol Polarimetry Imager. This spectrometer has wide angle of view and moderate resolution and is used for compensation noises caused by clouds and aerosols. It operates on ultraviolet at 0.38 µm, on visible light at 0.67 µm and near infrared at 0.87 µm, 1.375 µm and 1.64 µm.

Long March 2D was designed by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology in the late eighties and early nineties. It remains in service since its maiden flight in 1992. It is based on two liquid fueled stages; first stage is equipped with four YF-21C engines (fueled with N2O4 and UDMH) with thrust at 2961.6 kN. It is long for 27.91 m with diameter at 3.35 m and weight at 182000 kg. Second stage is powered by one YF-24C engine consisted of one YF-22C as main engine and four YF-23C for stabilization. Thrust of YF-22C is at 742.04 kN and for single stabilizing engine is at 47.1 kN. Second stage has following dimensions: length at 10.9 m with diameter at 3.35 m and weight at 52700 kg. Rocket offers SSO payload at 1300 kg and for LEO orbit – 3500 kg.