Wed. Oct 4th, 2023
    Carbon Mapper’s New Spectrometer Could Help Pinpoint Greenhouse Gas “Super-Emitters”

    A newly arrived spectrometer at Planet Labs in San Francisco holds great potential for studying greenhouse gas emissions on Earth. Developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), this spectrometer will be mounted onto the Tanager satellite, set to launch in 2024. Carbon Mapper, a collaboration between JPL, Planet Labs, the California Air Resources Board, Rocky Mountain Institute, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona, plans to use Tanager to identify and locate greenhouse gas “super-emitters” on our planet.

    The spectrometer is specifically designed to observe carbon dioxide and methane on Earth’s surface. It works by analyzing the infrared light reflected from the Earth’s surface and separating it into its spectrum. Each gas in Earth’s atmosphere absorbs different wavelengths of light, creating characteristic gaps in the spectrum that allow scientists to determine which gases are present at a specific location.

    Before being sent to San Francisco, the spectrometer was tested at JPL. Scientists placed a methane sample in clear view of the spectrometer inside a vacuum chamber. The results were promising, showing that the spectrometer successfully recorded the methane spectral signature. According to Robert Green, an instrument scientist at JPL, this is a positive sign for the upcoming space measurement.

    Carbon Mapper’s previous instrument, EMIT, was launched aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to monitor mineral dust blown from Earth’s deserts. The spectrometer will join EMIT in monitoring greenhouse gases from an orbit that circles around Earth’s poles.

    With its ability to track and locate greenhouse gas emissions, Carbon Mapper’s new spectrometer holds great promise for understanding and addressing the sources of these gases. By identifying and focusing on “super-emitters,” we can take targeted actions to mitigate climate change and reduce our impact on the planet.

    – Spectrometer: A device that analyzes the wavelengths and intensities of light.
    – Greenhouse gases: Gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere.
    – Super-emitters: Sources that release exceptionally high levels of greenhouse gases.

    – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
    – Planet Labs
    – California Air Resources Board
    – Rocky Mountain Institute
    – Arizona State University
    – University of Arizona