New NASA-Built Instrument Made To Spot Greenhouse Gas Super-Emitters

Image Courtesy of Google Earth

Image Courtesy of Google Earth

Denny Mathew, Staff Writer

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California is creating an instrument called the “Carbon Mapper”; a device that will enable a nonprofit organization to detect and measure methane and carbon dioxide point-sources from space.

The data collected by the new device will help to find super-emitters – the individual sources responsible for a large portion of global emissions of methane and carbon dioxide.

“JPL is excited to be pioneering this research effort, which will provide critical information about greenhouse gases and the future of Earth’s climate,” said James Graf, director for the Earth Science and Technology Directorate at JPL. “This effort is the first time we have partnered on a space mission with a consortium of nonprofit organizations, universities, and the State of California.”

The first Carbon Mapper satellite is aiming to launch in 2023. JPL will provide a state-of-the-art imaging spectrometer, an instrument used widely in scientific research. Where a digital photograph breaks down visible light into just three colors – red, green, and blue – an imaging spectrometer breaks down the light into hundreds of colors to reveal the unique spectral signatures of molecules in the air. In this case, methane and carbon dioxide will be detected by the spectrometer.

More information about the Carbon mapper can be found here: