A new era in monitoring compliance of environmental regulations is quickly approaching, signaled in part by plans announced Thursday to deploy a network of satellites that can pinpoint sources of of methane and carbon dioxide emissions.
Why it matters: The new nonprofit, known as Carbon Mapper, aims to launch its first satellite in 2023 that can detect methane super-emitters and track carbon emissions. If successful, it could transform the way policymakers regulate greenhouse gas emissions and also generate a wealth of data for public use.
Between the lines: Carbon Mapper — which combines the skills of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and satellite firm Planet with the state of California, two universities in Arizona, a foundation and an environmental think tank — has raised $100 million for its first two satellites, planned for launch in 2023.
- A second phase, consisting of a constellation of satellites, is in the design stages for launch in 2025.
- When combined with efforts by the environmental group EDF to launch its own methane-tracking satellite, the development signals the move toward real-time emissions monitoring.
- The new consortium represents a potential leap forward in the long-running effort to hold polluters accountable.
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