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The New Methane-Tracking Space Satellite

March 6, 2024
x min read

There’s a new satellite in orbit that is aiming to get methane emissions from oil and gas companies under control.

What’s happening:

  • MethaneSAT has officially launched into orbit for the very first time as part of a recent SpaceX Falcon 9 launch into space
  • MethaneSAT is a satellite technology that has been in development with collaborators such as Harvard School Of Engineering and Applied Sciences, New Zealand Space Agency and others

The big idea:

  • MethaneSAT is capable of orbiting Earth at rapid speeds and using satellite technology to identify methane leaks, particularly from oil and gas infrastructure
  • Google and MethaneSAT have partnered together to build a real time map that shows the size and scale of methane leaks from energy projects
  • Through building a real time map, MethaneSAT is aiming to accelerate both transparency for methane emissions and the ability to have data that accurately reflects the amount of methane going into the atmosphere

By the numbers:

  • MethaneSAT will be able to track approximately 80% of all oil and gas infrastructure globally for methane leaks
  • Oil and gas companies are responsible for about 38% of methane emissions globally
  • It only takes 95 minutes for MethaneSAT to fully orbit the Earth

Going deeper:

  • MethaneSAT is a wholly owned subsidiary of the non profit Environmental Defense Fund
  • Notable backers including Google, Jeff Bezos and others have helped fund the research and development of MethaneSAT
  • Identifying methane emissions through aerospace technology has been a rapidly growing trend in venture capital, with both Y Combinator and BlackRock recently backing companies trying to solve methane gas leaks through new imaging and sensor technology

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