How MethaneSAT is different from other satellites

MethaneSAT could help us measure methane pollution from oil and gas facilities worldwide with both broad scope and exacting precision.

Reducing oil and gas methane emissions around the world is a critical part of combating global warming. While other satellites are helping shed light on the problem, MethaneSAT changes the game in a few key ways.

Better coverage and measurement

MethaneSAT can provide global, high-resolution coverage of methane emissions from oil and gas facilities, beating anything in orbit or on the drawing board today. It can measure surface-level methane emissions from other major sources of human-caused methane emissions, too.

The 200+ kilometer satellite view path is large enough not only to quantify known sources, but also to discover and quantify previously unknown sources. It’s designed to measure regions at intervals under seven days, regularly monitoring roughly 50 major regions accounting for over 80 percent of global oil and gas production.

With its moderately high spatial resolution and very high precision, MethaneSAT is designed to have the capacity to detect lower emission sources while being able to attribute the source of those emissions at scales relevant to oil and gas infrastructure.

Quicker and less expensive to launch

As it will focus only on methane – not a wider spectrum of greenhouse gases measured by other satellites – MethaneSAT will be less expensive and quicker to launch than the multi-function satellites built by government space agencies.

That means we’ll get the critical data we need, sooner. MethaneSAT will fill significant data gaps left by other satellite systems that are currently planned or recently deployed, enabling companies and countries to make better decisions and take action sooner, as well.

Public data for all to see and use

Most satellites originate either from research and space organizations as large-scale projects requiring multi-purpose platforms, or from private-sector ventures selling data to corporate and government users. MethaneSAT combines the economic advantages of each model, and makes the results available to everyone.

EDF will use this information to better define the magnitude of the oil and gas methane challenge – and its sources – giving industry, investors and regulators an essential tool to spot problem areas, identify reductions and measure progress in reducing emissions.