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  • Satellite Evolution

ESA awards GHGSat third party mission status integrating high-resolution methane emissions data

GHGSat, the world leader in high-resolution sensing of greenhouse gas emissions from space, today announced that it had officially joined the European Space Agency’s (ESA) prestigious Earthnet Third Party Mission (TPM) programme. As a result, data from the company’s commercial satellites will be provided, free of charge, to researchers working in the fields of Earth sciences and climate change.

Launched in 2018, ESA’s Earthnet TPM programme rigorously evaluates independent Earth Observation (EO) datasets, assessing their quality and validation protocols. If accepted, ESA then flags the information to the wider scientific community. The programme aims to make high quality data more accessible and inter-operable, in order to promote the creation of new science and applications.

The new deal expands on an existing arrangement with ESA and the Canadian Space Agency which saw GHGSat provide 5% of the data from its first commercial satellite, free for use by researchers. TPM users will be able to access state of the art greenhouse gas measurements, with a resolution down to just 25m on the ground, from sites around the world.

Announcing GHGSat’s Third Party Mission Status, ESA’s Simonetta Cheli, Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said, “We are delighted to announce that our Member States have approved GHGSat’s membership to the Third Party Mission programme. It is fitting that we do this today, at our Living Planet Symposium: an event that sees scientists and researchers, from around the world, come together to discuss how space can help us monitor – and safeguard – the health of our planet. GHGSat’s unique high-resolution imagery is a valuable addition to our portfolio and will be a great asset to all those studying human-made greenhouse gas emissions.”

Methane is now recognised as a major factor in global warming. Identifying – and rectifying - the source of man-made leaks has become a climate action priority. GHGSat operates the only satellite constellation able to measure industrial emissions down to the level of individual oil or gas wells. It currently has three satellites in orbit, with three more due to launch this week.

Eric Laliberté, Director General Space Utilization, Canadian Space Agency, said: “Today’s announcement is recognition of a remarkable journey: over the course of just a few years, GHGSat has built a company, proven a new technology in space, and launched an operational fleet of greenhouse gas observing satellites that support the COP26 methane pledge. Now its data has been validated at the highest level.”

Stephane Germain, CEO, GHGSat said: “We greatly value our relationship with ESA and are thrilled at becoming an official Third Party Mission member. It is a tribute to the hard work of our teams and scientists, in Canada and around the world, that have helped create - and prove - the high-resolution technology that makes our data unique. From the moment we had our first demonstration satellite in orbit, GHGSat has looked for ways to support climate science research, working with distinguished organisations such as Harvard and SRON. Now, as part of ESA’s TPM family, we’re glad our data will be available to an even wider community.”

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