March 10, 2017

Ségolène Royal, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Maritime Affairs, in charge of international climate relations, announces launch of MicroCarb mission at the Toulouse Space Centre

Friday 10 March, Ségolène Royal, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Maritime Affairs, in charge of international climate relations, and Louis Schweizer, the Commissioner General for Investment, visited the Toulouse Space Centre where they were received by CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and Geneviève Campan, Director of Digital Technologies and Operations and the centre’s Site Director.

Ségolène Royal paid an official visit to the Toulouse Space Centre today, Friday 10 March, where she officially opened the Pierre Auger building, the first CNES facility designed to France’s HQE high-environmental-quality standard. By obtaining HQE certification for this new 5,700-square-metre building, CNES is demonstrating its close commitment to environmental issues on Earth and in space, in the wake of the COP21 conference.

The Minister then announced the launch of the MicroCarb satellite mission to measure atmospheric concentrations of carbon, designed to map sources and sinks of this potent greenhouse gas on a global scale. Scheduled to launch in 2020, MicroCarb is the first European mission intended to characterize greenhouse gas fluxes on Earth’s surface and gauge how much carbon is being absorbed by oceans and forests, the main sinks on the planet. MicroCarb will also measure how much carbon gas is being emitted by natural processes and human activities. With this mission, CNES will be taking over from Japan’s Gosat satellite launched in 2009 and NASA’s OCO-2 satellite launched in 2014.

MicroCarb will be able to measure the total column concentration of carbon gas with a high degree of precision, on the order of 1 ppm and with a pixel size of 4.5 km x 9 km. Carrying a more compact instrument almost three times lighter than OCO-2’s, MicroCarb will be built around a CNES Myriade microsatellite bus and will experiment with local imaging of carbon gas concentrations in zones of intense human activity. France has already provided €25 million in funding for the project through budget lines appropriated to the energy transition from the government’s PIA future investment plan, thus securing the means to verify that targets committed to in the Paris Agreement are reached.

After the Minister’s visit, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “CNES would like to thank Ségolène Royal for her determined efforts to curb climate change and her unwavering support for our programmes. MicroCarb is another example of the kind of initiatives we are pursuing, underpinned by our objectives and performance plan, through which we are inventing the future of space.”

Fabienne Lissak    Tél. 00 331 44 76 78 37