The tool will help people, including resource managers and other officials, to address increasing concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California is providing the instrument that will enable a nonprofit organization called Carbon Mapper to pinpoint and measure methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) point-sources from space. The data collected by the instrument will help to find super-emitters – the small percentage of individual sources that are responsible for a significant fraction of global emissions of methane and carbon dioxide.
“JPL is excited to be pioneering this research effort, which will provide critical information about greenhouse gases and the future of Earth’s climate,” said James Graf, director for the Earth Science and Technology Directorate at JPL. “This effort is the first time we have partnered on a space mission with a consortium of nonprofit organizations, universities, and the State of California.”
The first Carbon Mapper satellite is targeting a 2023 launch. JPL will provide a state-of-the-art imaging spectrometer, a type of instrument used widely in scientific research. Where a digital photograph breaks down visible light into just three colors – red, green, and blue – an imaging spectrometer breaks down light into hundreds of colors to reveal the unique spectral signatures of molecules such as methane and carbon dioxide in the air.
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