Satellites

MethaneSAT satellite to detect methane emissions

Methane is the second gas which is equally to be blamed as carbon dioxide to cause climate change. Methane emissions are in fact responsible for a quarter of the warming our planet is experiencing.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is planning to launch a new satellite into space that will help scientists track and measure methane emissions from human activities, initially from the oil and natural gas sector, which releases an estimated 75 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere each year. Rice field, wetlands and manmade wells are also some of the main sources of methane emission. Another notable source of Methane is byproducts of cows.

Detecting methane source is not at all an easy task as it spreads and mixes up in the environment very quickly. Currently, there are many satellites which presently measure methane including Japanese scientists’ methane sensor and the European Space Agency’s Tropomi satellite, but they all fail to give a perfect measurement of methane emission.

Dubbed MethaneSAT, the new satellite was unveiled by Fred Krupp, the President of Environmental Defense Fund, in a TED Talk at TED’s flagship event in Vancouver, British Columbia. The satellite is expected to specifically detect methane leaks from the atmosphere.

MethaneSAT will be developed by the Environmental Defense Fund in collaboration with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard University to complete the basic science and technical strategies for the mission. Initial funding for MethaneSAT is being provided by The Audacious Project. EDF will make data collected by MethaneSAT freely available to all.

Krupp said in a statement that they can put the brakes on climate change by cutting down methane emissions from the global oil and gas industry. He added that MethaneSAT will help transform a serious climate threat into an important opportunity by providing reliable and fully transparent data on a worldwide scale.

The EDF is planning to launch the MethaneSAT satellite by early 2021.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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