Concept, scope and challenges

The Horizon 2020 project SCARBO (Space CARBon Observatory), implemented by a consortium of 10 European organisations led by Airbus Defence and Space, kicked-off its activities in January 2018 and will run until December 2021.

The project aims at solving a key challenge of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) monitoring from space: improve the temporal revisit over the various sites of interest while meeting the accuracy and spatial resolution requirements (as per the EU guidelines on anthropogenic GHGs monitoring). This is envisaged by implementing a novel miniaturised static spectrometer concept on a constellation of Small Satellites (< 500 kg), coupled with aerosol sensors and high-end reference instruments.

The challenge of the project is to overcome the current technological and economical roadblocks of existing GHG monitoring missions (measurement uncertainties due to aerosols, provision of both high accuracy measurements and high temporal frequency of GHG measurements within a reasonable cost envelope). SCARBO will address both CO2 and CH4 species.

 

CONCEPT

Small Sats constellation

Novel miniaturised sensors  

Reference instruments 

Aerosol sensors

SCOPE

Technical feasibility study

Assessment of mission performances

Proof of concept demonstration

Exploitation plan and use cases 

CHALLENGES

High accuracy measurements 

High observation frequency

High spatial resolution

Mission cost optimisation 

The SCARBO approach

The SCARBO project foresees the detailed design, analysis and modelling of a miniaturised GHG-monitoring spectro-imaging instrument, NanoCarb, which can fly on Small Satellites platforms. The entire mission architecture is based on specific user requirements, which will drive the preliminary design of the instrument and size of the Small Sats constellation.

NanoCarb will be complemented by an ultra-compact aerosol sensor and a reference instrument in order to deliver high accuracy measurements.

Two types of spacecraft are foreseen:

  • 200 kg class spacecraft, embarking:
    • NanoCarb
    • Aerosol Sensor
    • Reference instrument
  • 50 kg class spacecraft, embarking:
    • NanoCarb
    • Aerosol Sensor

The overall measurement concept will be experimentally validated through a dedicated airborne campaign with instrument prototypes.

Lastly, in addition to the technical analysis, the commercial perspectives of the SCARBO mission data products at global, regional and local scales will be assessed by means of a market analysis.

This innovative concept promises the monitoring of anthropogenic CO2 and CH4 emissions from Space while meeting the spatial resolution, temporal resolution, and accuracy requirements as per the EU GHG-specific documents and other state-of-the-art requirement sources. Moreover, the miniaturised sensors together with the use of Small Sats platforms can lead to a significant cost reduction in terms manufacturing and launch with respect to standard monolithic large spacecraft.

2030 is seen as a realistic timeframe for a potential SCARBO operational implementation. It is important to consider that the Second Generation of the Copernicus Space Component will start flying as early as 2028, which represents a fortunate time alignment with SCARBO.
 

Scarbo approach