Credit: EDF/TED Talks

The Environmental Defense Fund is eyeing its own satellite – MethaneSAT — to collect data from around the world about methane pollution and make it publicly available. Doing so would allow companies, governments, investors, and concerned citizens to target pollution control efforts where they’re most needed.

According to the EDF, cutting methane emissions is the fastest, cheapest thing that can be done to slow the rate of warming today, even as we continue to attack carbon dioxide emissions.

A 45% reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 2025 would deliver the same 20-year climate benefit as closing one-third of the world’s coal-fired power plants, notes the EDF.

Single-purpose platform

“Our new MethaneSAT will help empower this generation of environmental advocates by providing global high-resolution coverage of methane emissions,” according to EDF. “As a single-purpose platform, it will be quicker and less expensive to launch than the complex multifunction satellites built by government space agencies, so we can get data sooner.”

To make MethaneSAT turn into reality, Tom Ingersoll, a leading satellite entrepreneur with three decades of experience, has been hired to manage the project. Also, they have partnered with Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to get the science right.

MethaneSAT, shown in an artist’s rendering, aims to use new technology to map and measure human-made emissions globally, to help reduce methane pollution.
Credit: EDF

Why focus on methane?

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Human-made methane emissions account for a quarter of today’s global warming. Also, one of the leading sources of those emissions is the oil and gas industry.

To fully understand the problem – and drive the solutions – more and better data is required about: How large methane emissions are; Where they’re coming from; The biggest potential reductions; Progress of those reductions over time.

MethaneSAT will provide global high-resolution coverage, exceeding anything in orbit or on the drawing board today.

EDF President Fred Krupp announced this new initiative in a recent TED Talk that can be viewed here:

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