A state-of-the-art imaging spectrometer designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has moved closer to launch after being delivered to Planet Labs PBC (Planet) in San Francisco. The instrument will be integrated into a Tanager satellite over the next several months, and launch is planned for early 2024.
The imaging spectrometer will measure the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide from space. It is part of an effort led by the nonprofit Carbon Mapper organization to collect data on greenhouse gas point-source emissions.
The instrument will use its infrared capabilities to detect the unique “fingerprints” of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This data will be used to identify and track emissions from sources such as oil and gas wells, landfills, and power plants.
The Carbon Mapper mission is expected to provide the highest-resolution data on greenhouse gas emissions ever collected from space. The data will be used by scientists, policymakers, and industry to better understand and mitigate climate change.
How the Imaging Spectrometer Works
The imaging spectrometer works by measuring the different wavelengths of light reflected by Earth’s surface and absorbed by gases in the atmosphere. Each gas has a unique absorption spectrum, so by measuring the amount of light absorbed at different wavelengths, scientists can identify and quantify the presence of specific gases.
The Carbon Mapper imaging spectrometer is particularly sensitive to methane and carbon dioxide. These gases are powerful greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
Benefits of the Carbon Mapper Mission
The Carbon Mapper mission will provide a number of benefits, including:
- Improved understanding of greenhouse gas emissions: The mission will provide the highest-resolution data on greenhouse gas emissions ever collected from space. This data will be used to identify and track emissions from a variety of sources, including oil and gas wells, landfills, and power plants.
- Better climate change mitigation strategies: By understanding where and how greenhouse gases are being emitted, scientists and policymakers can develop more effective strategies to mitigate climate change.
- More informed decision-making for businesses: Businesses can use the Carbon Mapper data to make more informed decisions about their environmental impact. For example, companies can use the data to identify and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, or to offset their emissions by investing in carbon capture and storage projects.
The launch of the Carbon Mapper imaging spectrometer is a significant milestone in the fight against climate change. The data collected by the mission will be essential for understanding and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.