Earth observation project Current Affairs - 2019

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Key Facts: Deep Carbon Observatory

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a global research program to outreach carbons role on Earth. It is a community of scientists including physicists, biologists, geo – scientists and chemists working across several traditional disciplinary lines.

Key highlights of DCO research

  • It has found that there are ultra – deep diamonds at 670 km depth in the mantle. It has signatures of geochemical signature of organic material from Earth’s surface.
  • There may be significant amounts of iron carbide in the Earth’s core that accounts to two – thirds of Earth’s carbon
  • It has identified abiogenic sources of methane from crust and mantle. Abiogenesis is a hypothetical theory which proposes that fossil fuels are formed from inorganic matter rather than by decomposition of organisms or organic matter.
  • The complex links between biosphere and geosphere and their evolution. The links are reflected in major events like Great Oxidation Event
    • Great Oxidation Event – Around 2.4 billion years ago, biologically induced molecular oxygen accumulated in the Earth’s atmosphere. This changed the atmosphere to an oxidizing atmosphere from a weak reducing atmosphere. The even caused almost all lives on the Earth to go extinct. Scientists are still unable to determine causes of the event.
  • The Volcanic flux of carbon – dioxide is twice as that of previously determined.

DCO Explorations

The DCO explores

  • High pressure and Extreme temperature organic synthesis
  • Complex interactions between organic molecules and minerals
  • Conducts field observations of deep microbial eco systems
  • Constructs theoretical models of lower crust and upper mantle carbon sources
  • Conducts observations of anomalies in petroleum geochemistry

Reservoir and Flux community of DCO

The subduction of tectonic plates and volcanic outgassing are the main sources of carbon fluxes. But the process and rates of these carbon fluxes are poorly understood. The main function of the Reservoir and Flux community of DCO is to explore the storage and transport of carbon in the deep interior of the Earth.

The Deep Earth Carbon Degassing Project of DCO is examining if large reservoirs of carbon are hidden in the mantle and core. It also works on finding how this carbon outgasses from the Earth’s deep interior into the surface environment.

Deep Energy wing of DCO

It quantifies the processes and environmental conditions that control origins, forms, quantities and movements of carbon compounds. This community of DCO predominantly works around carbon compounds that were reduced from deep carbon compounds through geologic time.

It conducts investigations in 25 global terrestrial and marine environment to determine the processes controlling movements of abiotic gases and their origin, form, quantities. It also discriminates abiotic and biotic methane gas and organic species.

The Deep Energy community also quantifies the rates of fluid rock interactions that produce abiotic hydrogen.

Deep life wing of DCO

It documents the interaction between the carbon cycle and diversity of Earth’s deep biosphere. It marks the diversity of subsurface marine and continental microorganisms in space and time and their interaction with the deep carbon.

The wing conducts Census of Deep life annually. This census identifies the diversity and distribution of microbial life in continental and marine deep subsurface environments.

According to the 2018 census by the Deep life wing of DCO, life forms on the earth including 70% of bacteria comprises up to 23 billion tons of carbon. They live up to 4.8 km deep underground including 2.5 km below the seabed.

Gaofen 11: China launches high-resolution Earth observation satellite

China successfully launched Gaofen-11, an optical remote sensing satellite, as part of the country’s high-resolution Earth observation project. It was launched on board of Long March 4B rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province. It was overall 282nd flight mission by Long March carrier rocket.

Key Facts

Gaofen-11 is sub-meter resolution optical satellite. It was developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). It is the sixth in Gaofen series launched this year, following triplet of Gaofen-1 satellites and larger Gaofen-5 and Gaofen-6, all placed in Sun-synchronous orbits.

It will become part of China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS)  initiated in 2010 to provide all-weather, all-day coverage by 2020 with optical and synthetic aperture radar satellites, and could also include airborne and near-space systems such as stratospheric balloons.

Gaofen-11 satellite will be used for land survey, urban planning, road network design, agriculture, and disaster relief. Its data will also be used for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China had unveiled BRI in 2013 with aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Gulf region, Africa and Europe with network of land and sea routes.

Gaofen project

Gaofen means “high resolution” in Chinese. It is ambitious space project of China that aims to launch seven high-definition observation satellites before 2020. Gaofen-1 was the first satellite of the project series which was launched in April 2013. Presently, Gaofen-1 and Gaofen-2 satellites part of Gaofen project series are orbiting around the earth at low orbits around 600-700km. Since launch of Gaofen project, China has gained increasingly clearer view of planet.