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New Japanese satellite measuring Earth's carbon dioxide

Take a deep breath: there's now a satellite monitoring how much greenhouse gas we're expelling into Earth's atmosphere.

"Ibuki"—"breath" in Japanese—was launched into the cosmos today from Tanegashima, a remote island in the southern part of the country. As it circles the planet every 100 minutes for the next five years, Ibuki will collect information about carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (the crucial culprits in rising temperatures on Earth) that will provide insight into global warming.

"Global warming is one of the most pressing issues facing the international community, and Japan is fully committed to reducing CO2," Yasushi Tadami, who's working on the project for Japan's Environment Ministry, told the Associated Press. "The advantage of Ibuki is that it can monitor the density of CO2 and methane gas anywhere in the world."

The satellite will orbit at about 415 miles (670 kilometers) above Earth, tracking CO2 and methane levels from a whopping 56,000 locations.

The U.S. is set to launch its own, $277-million Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) on February 23. Like Ibuki, the OCO will monitor carbon dioxide emissions with the goal of predicting the course of climate change. The satellite will make 16-day cycles around Earth from 483 miles (777 kilometers) up, the Discovery Channel says

Image of Ibuki by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

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