NASA’s science instrument in orbit will form the backbone of a new initiative to survey methane emissions from landfills in a new nonprofit project to track the greenhouse gas.
New project led by nonprofit group Carbon Mapper, NASA’s EMIT experiment (its name is short for Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation) to track methane and data collected from the International Space Station by other NASA science instruments Will use NASA is the source of about a quarter to a third of human-caused global warming.
By establishing a baseline assessment of waste sites across the planet and determining which sites emit methane at high rates, this initiative could help decision-makers reduce the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere thereby limiting climate change. To be.
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“Currently, there is limited actionable information about methane emissions from the global waste sector,” Riley Duren, CEO of Carbon Mapper, said in a statement. NASA statement, “A comprehensive understanding of high-emission point sources from waste sites is an important step in reducing them.”
Compared to carbon dioxide, methane is 80 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere. However, unlike carbon dioxide, methane does not remain in Earth’s atmosphere for long and lasts for decades rather than centuries. This means that significantly reducing methane emissions can have an immediate effect in slowing atmospheric warming.
As the waste sector is estimated to contribute about 20% of human-caused methane emissions, it is one of the primary focuses of the mission to reduce this greenhouse gas.
“New technological capabilities that are making these emissions visible — and therefore actionable — have the potential to change the game, increasing our collective understanding of the near-term opportunities in this often overlooked area,” Duren said.
The Carbon Mapper project will conduct a preliminary remote-sensing survey of more than 1,000 managed landfills in the United States, Canada and other sites in Latin America, Africa and Asia in 2023.
This data will be collected using aircraft-based sensors such as the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer-Next Generation (Next Generation).AVIRIS-NG (opens in new tab)) and Arizona State University’s Global Airborne Observatory were both developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.
The project will also use methane data from EMIT which was installed aboard the International Space Station in July with the aim of studying the mineralogical content of the planet’s major dust-producing regions.
In October 2022, EMIT demonstrated its ability to detect methane, detecting methane plumes from more than 50 so-called “super-emitters” in Central Asia, the Middle East and the Southwestern United States.
“NASA JPL has a decade-long track record of using airborne imaging spectrometers to make high-quality observations of methane point-source emissions,” said Robert Green, JPL’s EMIT principal investigator, in a NASA statement. “With EMIT we have employed the same techniques in a spaceborne instrument, allowing us to collect information on localized methane sources from orbit.”
After its first year, the Carbon Mapper team will begin a comprehensive survey of nearly 10,000 landfill sites around the world using satellites equipped with imaging spectrometer technology developed at JPL. These specially designed Carbon Mapper spacecraft are set to launch in late 2023.
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