Monitoring planet earth with ABB instrumentation

2009-01-23 - Advanced ABB instrumentation is helping space and meteorological agencies all over the world better understand complex processes in the atmosphere and improve their ability to forecast the weather and monitor global climate change. The latest is the Japanese satellite GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite), launched Jan. 22. Its main component is an ABB spatial interferometer.

By ABB Communications

ABB is the world’s leading supplier of advanced analytical solutions to measure gases and chemicals in the earth’s atmosphere and monitor the dynamic processes that create the world’s weather and the forces that create our climate.

Many of the world’s space agencies and meteorological offices rely on ABB analytical solutions built in Montreal, Canada to take these vital measurements in ground-based, airborne and space applications.

Often orbiting in satellites hundreds of kilometers above earth, the solutions provide unique, accurate data on critical phenomena such as ozone depletion and greenhouse gas concentrations, as well as the presence of toxic chemicals during and after natural and manmade disasters.

The cutting-edge ABB solutions are based on Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and are the main analytical components on the satellites and aircraft that carry them. Among the many high-profile installations are:

Polar-orbiting U.S. satellite system for weather forecasting

ABB has designed and manufactured the interferometers on the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), one of the key instruments on the United States National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). NPOESS satellites monitor the entire planet from an altitude of about 850 kilometers. The ABB interferometers will provide highly accurate data on temperature, pressure, humidity and presence of chemicals in the troposphere (the lowest part of the earth’s atmosphere). This data will vastly improve the accuracy of weather forecasting. The first NPOESS satellite is expected to be launched in 2013. NPOESS

First satellite to measuring greenhouse gas emissions

An ABB spatial interferometer is the main component on the newly launched Japanese satellite GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite). The interferometer will collect and transmit precise measurements of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide and methane levels at 56,000 observation points from 666 kilometers above the earth. GOSAT will be the world’s first satellite to measure and monitor the sources of global greenhouse gas emissions. GOSAT

Accurate measures of ozone depletion

The main instrument on board SciSat, a satellite operated by the Canadian Space Agency, is an ABB Fourier transform spectrometer. Every day it takes some 2,700 high-resolution spectra of the atmosphere. The instrument provides the most accurate measurements to date of upper atmosphere chemicals and help improve our understanding of the chemical and dynamical processes that lead to the destruction and creation of stratospheric ozone. The measurements also make an important contribution to international environmental policy-making aimed at protecting the ozone layer. SciSat

Emergency responses to environmental disasters

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) operates an emergency response airplane containing a spectrometer made by ABB. The device measures – from a safe distance - the presence of hazardous chemicals in the atmosphere emitted during natural and manmade disasters. The airplane has been deployed more than 60 times since 2001 as part of the U.S. government’s frontline response to catastrophes like the destruction of the Colombia Space Shuttle in 2003, the fire at a Texas petrochemicals facility in 2005, the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and the vast wildfires that often sweep across states like California. EPA ASPECT

Read "Watching the Weather" for more information on these and other ABB installations for space and meteorological agencies.

Did you know?
ABB developed a complete power and automation solution for the world’s only floating rocket launch platform and commander control vessel, which is used to launch satellites into space from the Pacific Ocean in the ABB Review 3/2006. (PDF/200 kB)

ABB has supplied giant variable speed drive systems that enable Boeing, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Air Force to measure the aerodynamic performance of high-performance aircraft at their wind tunnel test facilities in the United States: ABB drive system to power Boeing wind tunnel.

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    Planet earth on Dec. 22, 1968, taken by Apollo 8 astronauts. (Photo courtesy NASA archives)

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