ABB to build sensors for NEC Toshiba satellite

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec, 23 August 2005. ABB said recently that it has won a $10 million contract to supply the main component for a new satellite that will enable the Japanese government to study and measure greenhouse gases in support of the Kyoto protocol.

Aug 23rd, 2005

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec, 23 August 2005. ABB said recently that it has won a $10 million contract to supply the main component for a new satellite that will enable the Japanese government to study and measure greenhouse gases in support of the Kyoto protocol.

The contract is with NEC Toshiba Space Systems, the primary equipment supplier to Japan's Greenhouse Gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) program. GOSAT is being jointly developed by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the National Institute for Environmental Studies, and Japan's Ministry of Environment. The satellite will be launched by JAXA in 2008.

ABB will supply the Michelson interferometer of the Fourier Transform Spectrometer, a system that will collect and transmit -- up to 30 times daily -- precise atmospheric measurements from 650 kilometers above the earth. The measurements will be used to chart and evaluate the atmosphere's carbon dioxide and methane levels. GOSAT is the first mission to measure global CO2 assessments. GOSAT targets the ambitious mission of measuring the annual variations of CO2 in the range of 0.3%.

The interferometer is being supplied by ABB Analytical's Remote Sensing business based in Quebec City. The business unit has been supplying land and satellite based sensor equipment for more than 30 years. The unit was integrated in ABB as part of its Bailey Controls acquisition in 1999.

ABB and NEC Toshiba Space Systems have been working on joint projects for more than 10 years. ABB has also previously designed and produced a demonstration model by direct contract with JAXA. "We are delighted that one of our core applications, greenhouse gas measurements, will play an essential role in this system," says Marc-Andre Soucy, manager of ABB's Remote Sensing business.

GOSAT is also important because the number of effective ground-based carbon dioxide observation stations has thus far been limited, mainly because they are poorly distributed throughout the world. "The GOSAT satellite will greatly improve the monitoring process by providing more precise carbon dioxide and methane density measurements," says Jun Tanii, a manager at NEC Toshiba Space Systems in Japan. Scientists will be able to combine global observation data sent from space with data already being gathered on land.

The interferometer design leverages an ABB system design currently in operation on a satellite launched in 2003 by the Canadian Space Agency. That satellite, named ACE/SciSat-1, is measuring several atmospheric chemical species to study the chemistry of the ozone layer.

Though the measurement process may sound very technical, it's relatively simple. Carbon dioxide and other gases emit molecules with a "spectral signature" that make them easy to identify and measure with infrared technology. The ABB spectrometer uses infrared technology to "read" the signature and establish the density of the molecules. By taking the readings at different orbital points -- latitude, longitude and altitude -- profiles are created to establish the concentration level of each gas in the atmosphere.

The ABB technology aboard the GOSAT satellite, Soucy adds, will be similar in many ways to "ground-based" applications used by customers in the refining, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical industries. For example, the refining industry uses ABB's technology to measure and control octane level specifications in the finished product blending of gasoline and diesel fuels.

ABB's FT-IR/NIR Analytical Business Unit designs, manufactures and markets high-performance FT Mid-IR/Near-IR analytical system solutions and spectrometers for petroleum, chemical, life science, and remote sensing/aerospace markets. The company also markets analyzers for hydrogen and inclusion measurement in liquid aluminum. For more information, see www.abb.com/analytical.

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 102,000 people. The company's North American operations, headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., employ about 12,000 people in 20 manufacturing and other facilities.

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