The New Zealand government is going to monitor methane emissions from agriculture using a satellite in space.

MethaneSAT is a satellite intended to detect global methane emissions to an extremely accurate level.

The satellite can focus on a large area or can look at specific targets.

The project is New Zealand’s first government-funded space mission.

New Zealand’s ministry of business, innovation and employment is participating in the mission to help to combat climate change.

Emissions detection

The satellite will mainly be used to generate data and catalyse a reduction in methane emissions from oil and gas, but it can also be used to detect emissions from agriculture.

The intention is to catalyse a reduction in methane emissions from oil and gas by at least 45% by 2025.

MethaneSAT LLC is a subsidiary of the Environmental Defence Fund, which is building the satellite.

The New Zealand government is making two main contributions to the space mission – the atmospheric science programme and a mission operations control centre (MOCC).

The MOCC will be located at the University of Auckland and will allow for the monitoring, control and support of the satellite.

Measuring methane

The atmospheric science programme will use the satellite to demonstrate the potential for satellites to accurately measure methane emissions from agriculture in New Zealand and around the world.

The team in New Zealand will also work with researchers at the University of Harvard and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, who are leading the MethaneSAT mission’s science on emissions from the oil and gas sector.