A Satellite to track Methane Gas Emissions – Fight Climate Change

An environmental group called the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced on April 11 that it has planned to develop its own satellite, MethaneSAT, particularly to measure the emissions of methane gas from human activities.

Controlling and reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas field globally is the only fastest way to put chains on the climate changes, along with the efforts to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions. EDF plans fight this serious climate threat by providing a fully transparent and reliable worldwide data on methane emissions.

EDF claims that its satellite will be able to produce more precise data than the existing satellites and sensors, on the emissions of methane in different fields including the oil and gas facilities. There are about 50 major regions of oil and gas which makes up for 80 percent of the production of methane globally, and the EDF has plans to monitor all 50 of them, by visiting them in intervals of 7 days or less. The data collected by the MethaneSAT will be made freely available by the organization.

The MethaneSAT project will be run by Tom Ingersoll, who was Skybox Imaging’s former chief executive. He is well known for leading in the development of SkySats, a high-resolution imaging satellites’ constellation. Skybox was renamed Terra Bella in 2014 after Google acquired it and later was sold to the Planet in the year 2017.

A few of the technical details have been disclosed about MethaneSAT. It looks somewhat similar to the SkySats satellites, like a small spacecraft. They are currently working on the technical specification and the estimated cost of the mission. It is just a matter of few months that they are ready with the ultimate design, specifications, logistical or finance choices of the MethaneSAT.

EDF is well advanced in space technology and has assembled the right people for this project, with a vision for the future and the ability to execute it. Among the partners of this project are the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard University, who will be developing the basic technical and scientific requirements for the mission. The initial funding of the satellite is being approved by the Audacious Project, which is an initiative established by the TED conference organizers for “collaborative philanthropy for bold ideas.” This wonderful initiative of TED has raised an amount of $250 million to date, and MethaneSAT is one of the five projects to be backed by it. EDF expects to launch the MethaneSAT by the year 2021.


MethaneSAT – different from other satellites