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IPFS News Link • Climate Change

New satellite to police carbon dioxide emitters from space

•, By Tereza Pultarova

The first-ever satellite designed to detect emitters of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is set to launch to space this year, promising to provide authorities with a tool to police compliance with emission reduction efforts designed to slow down climate change. 

The satellite, built by Canada-based company GHGSat, will be able to spot major carbon dioxide sources such as individual coal-fired power plants and cement production sites. 

GHGSat, founded in 2011, currently operates a fleet of six satellites that excel at detecting the more potent but less abundant greenhouse gas methane. Since launching its first satellite in 2016, the company has made headlines several times. Among other discoveries, it spotted major unreported methane leaks from gas fields in Turkmenistan and Russian coal mines. The GHGSat spacecraft also proved how much of the warming gas is leaking from landfills all over the world, and even spotted burping cows from space

But detecting spot sources of methane is much easier than discerning individual emitters of carbon dioxide, which is 80 times less potent but nearly eight times more abundant . Background concentrations of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere are quite high, currently standing at nearly 420 parts of carbon dioxide per million parts of air, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (opens in new tab)(NOAA).