Wed. Oct 4th, 2023
    NASA’s Greenhouse Gas Detector Poised for Launch

    A state-of-the-art imaging spectrometer developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has moved closer to launch after being delivered to Planet Labs PBC. This instrument, part of the Carbon Mapper initiative, will enable the measurement of greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide from space.

    The Carbon Mapper coalition, made up of organizations including Carbon Mapper, JPL, Planet, and several universities, aims to collect data on greenhouse gas point-source emissions. The imaging spectrometer, based on technologies used in NASA’s airborne campaigns and space missions, will provide targeted data on “super-emitters” responsible for a significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions.

    The spectrometer measures hundreds of wavelengths of light reflected by the Earth’s surface and absorbed by gases in the atmosphere. Different compounds, such as methane and carbon dioxide, absorb specific wavelengths of light, creating a distinctive “fingerprint” that can be identified by the spectrometer. This allows for the pinpointing and quantification of strong greenhouse gas emissions, aiding in mitigation efforts.

    After undergoing rigorous testing at JPL, including exposure to extreme temperatures and vibrations, the spectrometer was successfully delivered to Planet Labs for integration into a Tanager satellite. The launch is scheduled for early 2024.

    This milestone represents a collaborative effort between government, philanthropy, and industry to address the global challenge of greenhouse gas emissions. By leveraging advanced technology and data collection from space, the Carbon Mapper initiative aims to make a significant impact in improving our understanding and response to climate change.

    Sources: JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Carbon Mapper