Years after former Gov. Jerry Brown pledged California would launch its “own damn satellite” to track planet-warming pollutants, the state plans to put not one, but two satellites in orbit to help it hunt for hard-to-find “super-emitters” of methane and carbon dioxide.
In an announcement Thursday, a partnership of government and research organizations working under a newly formed nonprofit called Carbon Mapper said it is on track to launch the satellites in 2023 using $100 million in funding from philanthropic groups.
The two satellites will be used to locate, quantify and make visible plumes of methane and carbon pollution, which remain major obstacles in the fight against climate change. Regulators and scientists say faster, more accurate monitoring is urgently needed to accelerate greenhouse gas reductions and keep global warming from reaching catastrophic levels.
The satellites’ targets will include oil and gas operations, waste management facilities, dairies and other industries that researchers say spew much of the state’s methane, a short-lived but powerful pollutant that is more than 80 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
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