Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (Melco) has begun full-scale development of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite-2 (Gosat-2), which is targeted for a 2017 launch, the Tokyo-based company announced April 9.

A joint project of JAXA, the Ministry of the Environment and the National Institute for Environmental Studies, Gosat-2 is the successor to the Gosat climate monitoring satellite, which was launched in 2009 and continues to operate. With an estimated price tag of $404 million, Gosat-2 is expected to dramatically improve the accuracy of observations of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter in the atmosphere. 

Melco received the JAXA contract to build Gosat-2 in December 2013. The company will be responsible for system integration, sensor development and manufacturing, ground systems and satellite operation. Melco had a similar role on Gosat.

Gosat-2 will weigh about 1,500 kilograms and is designed to operate for five years in sun-synchronous orbit. The satellite will carry two main sensors for taking precise measurements of greenhouse gases, clouds and aerosols.

The measurements will be precise enough to distinguish between natural and human sources of greenhouse gases. These data will contribute to international policy formulation for emission-reduction treaties.

Gosat-2 will be part of an international network of greenhouse gas monitoring satellites that also will include NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2, slated to launch this year, and the European Space Agency’s proposed Carbonsat satellite.