On March 4, 2024, MethaneSAT was successfully delivered into space from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The groundbreaking satellite is designed to help protect the Earth’s climate by accelerating reductions of a powerful greenhouse pollutant, focusing first on oil and gas operations, a major source of methane. However, it can also be used to measure agricultural methane emissions, which are more diffuse and difficult to detect.

The MethaneSAT satellite will detect and measure methane in the atmosphere from a beam of sunlight reflected from Earth. Methane absorbs specific wavelengths in the spectrum of sunlight. An instrument called a spectrometer attached to the satellite will detect the resulting changes in the light that has travelled through the Earth’s atmosphere – these changes correspond directly to how much methane is in the air column.

Better understanding of agricultural methane emissions will provide much-needed evidence to feed into policy, underpin decision making and support actions to reduce methane emissions globally.

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