NASA spots Single Methane Leak from Space using Hyperion spectrometer

The observation that occurred over Aliso Canyon, near Porter Ranch, California is a breakthrough as it provides an ability to eventually measure emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from space.

Created On: Jun 17, 2016 09:09 ISTModified On: Jun 17, 2016 09:32 IST

NASA’s instrument, Hyperion spectrometer on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1), onboard an orbiting spacecraft measured methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth’s surface.

The observation, which occurred over Aliso Canyon, near Porter Ranch, California is an important breakthrough. It is important as it provides an ability to eventually measure and monitor emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from space.

This observation from space came in news after the paper was accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


About the observation via Hyperion spectrometer

• The Hyperion instrument successfully detected the methane leak on three separate overpasses during the winter of 2015-16.

• The research was part of an investigation of the large accidental Aliso Canyon methane release last fall and winter.

• The orbital observations from Hyperion were consistent with airborne measurements made by NASA's Airborne/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) imager flying onboard a NASA ER-2 aircraft.

Why this observation is important?

This is the first time that a methane emission from a single facility was observed from space. The detection will help to understand and address the unknown factor in greenhouse gas emissions.

Till date, the percentage of atmospheric methane produced through human activities remains poorly understood. But this detection will help in resolving the question by surveying the biggest sources around the world, which will be done with the instruments with much greater sensitivity on orbiting satellites.

NASA's Earth Observing-1

• NASA's New Millennium Program, EO-1 is an advanced land-imaging mission designed to demonstrate new instruments and spacecraft systems.

• Launched in 2000, EO-1 has validated technologies for the Operational Land Imager used on the Landsat-8 satellite mission and future imaging spectrometer missions, and supported disaster-response applications.

• The mission is managed by NASA Goddard.

• A joint initiative between NASA and the US Geological Survey, Landsat represents the world's longest continuously acquired collection of space-based moderate-resolution land remote sensing data.

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