Canadian emissions monitoring company GHGSat has successfully launched a satellite, called Vanguard, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This satellite aims to detect carbon dioxide emissions from individual facilities such as coal plants and steel mills, marking the first time this technology has been used in space.
GHGSat’s satellite will contribute to the ongoing efforts to hold polluting industries accountable for their impact on climate change. The data collected by Vanguard can be purchased by industrial emitters who are looking to reduce their emissions, as well as by governments and scientists.
The satellite’s primary focus will be on tracking plumes of methane, an invisible greenhouse gas that is often challenging to detect due to its leakage from various small sources like pipelines, drill sites, and farms. While other satellites currently monitor carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, they do not specifically target facility-level emissions, which is where Vanguard stands out.
The collected data will enhance the methods used to monitor and measure carbon dioxide emissions. Stephane Germain, CEO of GHGSat, explains that the direct measurement provided by the satellite will act as a validation, complementing the existing mix of direct measurements and estimations.
Satellites have already demonstrated that methane emissions surpass initial estimates, leading Germain to believe that the same may be true for carbon dioxide emissions. By improving the accuracy of government emissions inventories, scientific modeling, and corporate greenhouse gas reporting, the Vanguard satellite will contribute to more informed decision-making regarding climate change mitigation.
Overall, the launch of the Vanguard satellite is a significant step forward in utilizing space-age technology to effectively monitor and reduce carbon emissions from industrial facilities.