Ball Aerospace successfully delivered the MethaneSAT satellite to Vandenberg Space Force Base in Santa Barbara County, California this week, where it is scheduled to launch next month.
The mission was developed in partnership with MethaneSAT, part of the nonprofit Environmental Defence Fund (EDF), and it will provide groundbreaking data on the scale and sources of global methane emissions.
Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and the second leading driver of climate warming, trailing only carbon dioxide, according to NASA.
Once on orbit, the Ball-designed MethaneSAT instrument — composed of two advanced spectrometers — will locate and quantify sources of methane emissions around the world.
Current satellites focus on either scale or precision, tracking methane emissions over large geographic areas or targeting point sources in lieu of wider coverage.
MethaneSAT will fill the gap in between, leveraging a 200km field of view to measure emissions on a regional scale and high-resolution sensors capable of narrowing emissions sources to a single facility.
“MethaneSAT will shine a bright light onto the sources of methane production, providing the public with unimpeachable scientific data about the true extent of methane emissions around the world,” said Alberto Conti, vice president and general manager, civil space, Ball Aerospace.
“Our hope is that this mission will enable policymakers to establish ambitious emission reduction targets, motivating world leaders to enhance their efforts in capturing and effectively utilising this valuable natural gas.”
Ball Aerospace worked closely with scientists from EDF and MethaneSAT, LLC, to design and build the primary scientific instrument for the mission, in addition to leading spacecraft integration and environmental testing.
Ball Aerospace will also provide launch support and commissioning services for the mission. EDF is developing a cloud-based platform to distribute MethaneSAT data publicly and free of charge, allowing for total transparency of the mission’s operations and findings.
“MethaneSAT is built for one purpose: providing data to protect the Earth’s climate,” said Steven Hamburg, MethaneSAT mission lead and EDF Chief Scientist.
“The Ball team enabled us to push the envelope to achieve the unprecedented precision required for the mission. Their talent and dedication will help unlock global benefits at a critical moment.”
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