Google joins satellite mission to map methane from space

Google joins a mission to map global methane emissions from space

Google is supporting a satellite project set to begin in March that will collect data on methane levels throughout the planet.

The new satellite will travel 300 miles around the Earth 15 times each day.

Scientists think that methane gas contributes significantly to global warming because it stores heat.

Farming and garbage disposal create a lot of methane, but the Google initiative will focus on methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

Firms that extract oil and gas frequently burn or release methane.

The new initiative is a cooperation between Google and the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit worldwide climate organization.

Google has announced a collaboration with the global non-profit environmental group Environmental Defense Fund to detect methane emissions from space, using data collected by the MethaneSAT satellite (due to launch in March 2024 as part of a partnership project involving the New Zealand Space Agency, EDF, Harvard University, and others).

Google Cloud will offer the processing power required to analyze the information (using AI to identify sources) and overlay it with Google Map data. The data will be made accessible later this year via Google Earth Engine’s geospatial analytic tool, which is free for non-profits, researchers, and organizations.

The satellite’s data will be analyzed by the tech giant’s artificial intelligence technologies and used to create a methane map targeted at detecting methane leaks in oil and gas infrastructure throughout the world.

However, the corporation stated that if it discovered a large breach, it would not expressly alert the company that controlled the infrastructure responsible for it.

“Our job is to make information available,” it stated, adding that governments and regulators would have access to it and would be responsible for enforcing any changes.

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There are no international regulations governing methane emissions. The EU has agreed on a series of policies aimed at decreasing them, including requiring oil and gas firms to patch leaks. Flaring in the coal sector will be prohibited in all member states beginning in 2025.

Google’s map, which will be available on its Earth Engine, will not be real-time, with data beamed back from the satellite every few weeks.

In 2017, the European Space Agency deployed Tropomi, a comparable satellite sensor that monitors the presence of trace gases in the atmosphere, including methane.

It was a mission with a minimum seven-year lifespan, so it may finish this year.

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