GHGSat methane emission monitoring satellite constellation about to double

GHGSat-C3, GHGSat-C4 and GHGSat-C5 fully integrated and ready for launch (protective covers and aperture cover for shipping only). Credit: Space Flight Laboratory/GHGSat.

The number of satellites on-orbit for the GHGSat emissions tracking constellation is about to double from three to six with GHGSat-C3, C4 and C5 set for launch later this month.

This week, Toronto’s Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) announced that they had successfully completed testing on the three new satellites.

The satellites will now be shipped and integrated for the upcoming SpaceX Transporter-5 launch currently scheduled for May 25th.

SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee said “SFL is proud to play a role in the important work GHGSat is doing to provide greenhouse gas monitoring as a commercial service. The GHGSat microsatellites are able to detect and measure methane emissions from sources on the Earth’s surface that are 100 times smaller than those identified by other satellites.”

The satellites, named Luca, Penny, and Diako, include methane-detecting sensors from ABB Canada. The sensors were integrated by SFL on the “NEMO buses and initiated a series of tests for each spacecraft and its subsystems, which included Long Form Functional Test, Electromagnetic Compatibility, Vibration, and Thermal Vacuum.”

The satellites use the 15-kilogram Next-generation Earth Monitoring and Observation (NEMO) microsatellite platform.

“SFL also performed successful vibration testing of the XALT launch adapter which will mount the three microsatellites and their accompanying XPOD Delta deployer to a single 15-inch port on the launch vehicle. The XALT adapter and XPOD deployer are systems designed and developed by SFL to ensure the satellites separate safely from the launch vehicle.”

The three new satellites will join GHGSat-D (Claire), which was GHGSat’s first demonstration satellite launched in 2016, along with GHGSat-C1 (Iris) and GHGSat-C2 (Hugo) on-orbit. Another seven satellites are planned to build-out an initial constellation of 12 satellites plus demo satellite GHGSat-D (Claire). The final satellite in the current constellation will detect CO2 emissions. All the other satellites detect methane emissions. The CO2 sensor is also built by ABB Canada.

Stephane Germain, GHGSat CEO said “we see emissions today. With a growing satellite constellation, GHGSat will be able to monitor even more methane emission sources around the world, offering more data and statistics on growing climate changes and trends. We have the data to make a difference.”

Earlier this week GHGSat released an update on methane emissions from California feedlots. In the update the company stated that “pollution from feedlots is a major issue. Used to quickly fatten cattle before slaughter, they are a common feature of beef production in Australia, Canada, the EU and the US. The largest may contain upwards of 120,000 animals at any one time. California’s 1.4m cows are the biggest source of dairy-related methane in the country, something the State is trying to address through legislation. In 2017, new rules came into effect targeting a 40% reduction in levels of methane and fluorinated gases in the atmosphere by 2030, compared with 2013 values.”

You can learn more about GHGSat and the people working on tracking greenhouse gas emissions in this weeks Terranauts podcast.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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