PMF IAS Current Affairs
PMF IAS Current Affairs
  • Context (IE): Global Methane Emission Monitoring Satellite MethaneSAT was Successfully launched by SpaceX Falcon9 rocket from California.
  • Though it is not the first spacecraft to identify and quantify methane emissions, it will provide more details and have a much wider field of view than any of its predecessors.

    A satellite orbiting earth Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Need to track and measure methane emissions

  • Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is the second-largest contributor to global warming, following carbon dioxide.
  • It is responsible for 30% of global heating since the Industrial Revolution.
  • Methane is 80 times more potent in warming than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period (UNEP).
  • The gas also helps create ground-level ozone, a colourless and irritating gas.
    • Exposure to ground-level ozone might cause one million premature deaths annually.
  • Fossil fuel operations account for about 40 per cent of all human-caused methane emissions.

What is MethaneSAT?

  • It is a satellite project led by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a US nonprofit organisation.
  • EDF collaborated with Harvard University, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the New Zealand Space Agency for its development.
  • The satellite will orbit the Earth 15 times daily, focusing on monitoring the oil and gas sector.
  • Aim: To collect data revealing methane emissions’ sources, intensity, and changes over time.
  • Google (Mission partner): The data collected by MethaneSAT will undergo analysis using cloud computing and AI technology provided by Google.
    • The findings will be shared with the public through Google’s Earth Engine platform. This will allow stakeholders and regulators to take action to reduce methane emissions.

Significance of MethaneSAT

  • Limitations in earlier satellites
    • Some provided high-resolution data but only for specific sites, while others covered larger areas but missed smaller sources, which contributed to most emissions.
    • An IEA report suggests global methane emissions are 70% higher than reported by governments due to these limitations. MethaneSAT is expected to fix the issue.
  • Advantages in MethaneSAT
    • It can detect changes in methane concentrations as low as three parts per billion.
    • This capability enables it to identify smaller emission sources compared to previous satellites.
    • Additionally, MethaneSAT has a wide-camera view of about 200 km by 200 km, allowing it to spot larger emitters known as super emitters.

Steps taken to reduce Methane Pollution

  • Over 150 countries signed the Global Methane Pledge in 2021. The pledge aims to cut collective methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.
  • At the latest COP, more than 50 companies committed to virtually eliminating methane emissions and routine flaring.
  • Routine flaring, also known as production flaring, is a method and current practice of disposing of large unwanted amounts of associated petroleum gas (APG) during crude oil extraction.
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