Google AI Goes Galactic: Joins the Race to Map Methane Emissions from Space!

  • Editor
  • February 16, 2024
Google-AI-Bold-Leap-into-Space-to-Track-Methane-Emissions Globally

Google AI and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have stepped on a groundbreaking initiative to combat climate change by launching MethaneSAT, a satellite specifically designed to map and monitor methane emissions globally.

This collaboration is significant given methane’s role as a potent greenhouse gas, responsible for nearly a third of human-caused global warming.

The initiative, which includes contributions from Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the New Zealand Space Agency, is set to launch MethaneSAT in early May 2024 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Yael Maguire, vice president of geo sustainability at Google, said on a call with reporters, “We think this information is incredibly valuable for energy companies, researchers, and the public sector to anticipate and mitigate methane emissions in components that are generally most susceptible.”

The primary objective of MethaneSAT is to focus on more than 50 major regions worldwide, accounting for over 80% of global oil and gas production.

Orbiting Earth 15 times a day at an altitude of over 350 miles, it will use advanced algorithms developed by EDF and powered by Google Cloud to map these emissions.

This effort is crucial for understanding and mitigating the impacts of methane emissions, which are a major contributor to global warming.

When the news surfaced online, individuals globally expressed their reactions on social media. For some, it’s a great initiative by Google.

While some reactions were extremely negative.

Google’s role extends beyond just collaboration; it will use AI to identify oil and gas infrastructure in satellite imagery, combining this with MethaneSAT data to pinpoint sources of methane emissions.

This information will be accessible through Google Earth Engine, enabling users to detect trends and analyze the correlation between human activities and environmental impact. With over 100,000 monthly active users, Google Earth Engine will significantly broaden the impact of MethaneSAT’s data.

The statistics and figures surrounding MethaneSAT underscore its potential impact. Methane, with 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a decade, is a significant target in the fight against climate change.

The oil, gas, and coal operations, thought to contribute 40% of global methane emissions from human activities, will be under scrutiny.

The satellite’s 200-plus kilometer view path is extensive enough to quantify known and unknown emission sources, ensuring comprehensive monitoring of global oil and gas production.

For more AI news and insights, visit the news section of our website.

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Dave Andre


Digital marketing enthusiast by day, nature wanderer by dusk. Dave Andre blends two decades of AI and SaaS expertise into impactful strategies for SMEs. His weekends? Lost in books on tech trends and rejuvenating on scenic trails.

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