top of page

New Satellite Launched to Identify Methane Polluters

Look out methane polluters! They now have nowhere to hide after an independent monitoring satellite launched to pinpoint companies belching out the potent greenhouse gas.

Illustration of MethaneSat
Credit: MethaneSat

Methane is a particularly dirty greenhouse gas, driving about 30 percent of the heating the planet has experienced so far, reports BBC Future. It breaks down in the atmosphere in just 12 years, which is much sooner than the centuries taken by CO2 - but it is also around 80 times more powerful over a 20-year time span.

Climate action is largely focused on curbing carbon emissions, but the washing machine sized MethaneSat will be hunting for methane leaks - much of it escapes from leaks in oil and gas wells. The good news is that MethaneSat can precisely identify polluter and name and shame them.

This important new methane detection satellite entered orbit this week to spot methane sources, paving the way for greater accountability and, it is hoped, rapid reductions.

The satellite was developed by the non-profit Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) and launched by Space X. The EDF described it as a “revolution”.

“MethaneSat’s superpower is the ability to precisely measure methane levels with high resolution over wide areas, including smaller, diffuse sources that account for most emissions,” said EDF’s chief scientist Steven Hamburg.

Some 150 nations have signed the Global Methane Pledge to cut methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030. “Cutting methane pollution from fossil fuel operations, agriculture and other sectors is the single fastest way to slow the rate of warming,” said EDF president Fred Krupp.


bottom of page