Emission Detection Reaches New Heights with Iris

GHGSat continues to improve performance, with GHGSat-C1 ("Iris") measuring smaller methane emissions since the controlled release test in late September 2020.

GHGSat, the global leader in high-resolution greenhouse gas monitoring from space, continues to improve performance. GHGSat-C1 (“Iris“) has measured smaller methane emissions since the controlled release test in late September 2020. In one area, Iris has seen at least five plumes of similar size to the controlled release test (260 kg/hr), two of which are estimated to be 205 kg/hr and 217 kg/hr.

The sensing technology is also clearly detecting more emissions than GHGSat-D (“Claire“), launched in 2016. Where Claire detects a single plume, Iris now detects the same plume much more clearly, as well as four other smaller plumes in the same measurement. In some cases, Iris can resolve a large methane emission into constituent plumes that Claire would only see as a single plume.

Two examples compare and demonstrate the performance enhancements of Iris. The examples show sites measured by Claire and Iris at short intervals (days) from each other and are representative of what is routinely observed from both satellites at these sites.

Coal Mine, Australia – Figure 1

Claire (right) shows a single methane emission from a coal mine vent, whereas Iris (left) identifies four separate emissions – one from the same vent and three additional from nearby vents.

Oil & Gas, Central Asia – Figure 2

Again, Claire (right) observes a single methane emission from an oil & gas facility, whereas Iris (left) sees five separate emissions – one from the same facility and four additional smaller emissions from nearby infrastructure.

The units of measurement are in ppb and the blank background provides a contrast to better visualize smaller methane emissions.

The first satellite in the new high-resolution constellation, Iris, launched on the 2nd of September. The next satellite, Hugo, is scheduled to launch later this year, with a further 9 satellites due to be in orbit by the end of 2022. Each new satellite will feature GHGSat’s unique sensing technology, which can detect methane emissions from sources 100 times smaller than any other satellite, but with a resolution 100 times higher.