Planned for a 2023 launch, NASA has created an instrument for a non-profit organization called ‘Carbon Mapper’, that has the ability to pinpoint and measure methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) point sources from space. The tool is being used to help people like resource managers and officials to address increasing concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide within the atmosphere, in hopes that it will be able to help tackle the problem and find solutions.
The instrument will be utilised to help pinpoint ‘super-emitters’ – the small percentage of individual sources that are responsible for a significant fraction of global emissions of methane and carbon dioxide.
JPL, a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center, will provide a state-of-the-art imaging spectrometer, a type of instrument used widely in scientific research. It is used to break down visible lights in photographs into three different colors (red, green and blue), which indicates how much methane and carbon dioxide is in the air. Using an imaging spectrometer will allow the organization and other involved parties to have enormous quantities of data at their fingertips.
“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 organization ‘Carbon Mapper’ is aiming to make all it’s data on emissions available to all interested users within the industry, government and private sector, in a hope to aid science based decision making and to continue pushing forwards in scientific understanding of the changing Earth system.