First of a new constellation of greenhouse gas detecting satellites launched

  • Patented high-resolution instrument will detect even smaller methane leaks
  • 10 additional satellites to be launched by December 2022

VV16 launch3 Sept, Montreal, Canada: GHGSat, the global leader in high resolution greenhouse gas monitoring from space, today announced the successful launch of its latest satellite. ‘Iris’ cleared the tower at Kourou International Spaceport, Guiana, at 21:51 ET / 1:51 UTC (+01:00), onboard a Vega launcher. She separated from the rocket 40 mins later, at an altitude of 515 km. First radio contact was made with Iris less than 2 hours after launch. Over the course of the next week, GHGSat’s team will execute a series of procedures to commission the satellite and make it fully operational.

The launch marks a major milestone for the Canadian company, which revolutionized space-based detection of facility-level greenhouse gas emissions when it put ‘Claire’, a technology demonstrator, into orbit in 2016.

Iris is the first of a new constellation of satellites that utilizes patented technology to detect emissions from sources 100 times smaller than any other satellite system, and with a resolution 100 times higher. This means GHGSat can image and identify methane emissions from point sources as small as individual oil & gas wells. No other commercial operator or state-funded space organisation can do this.

Methane has c.84 times greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The main constituent of ‘natural gas’, it accounts for a quarter of all man-made global warming. However, methane is also a valuable resource that can be harnessed to provide energy: estimates suggest that up to 10m homes could be heated with the gas leaking, largely undetected, from US oil and gas production plants each year1.

GHGSat’s data and proprietary analytics enable regulators and operators in sectors such as oil and gas, waste management, mining, energy and agriculture to accurately and cost-effectively track emissions, and take prompt action to fix faulty infrastructure.

This capability will be further enhanced when the company’s third satellite, ‘Hugo’ launches later this year. By the end of 2022, GHGSat plans to have 10 high-resolution spacecraft in orbit, and to be the global reference for greenhouse emissions monitoring from space.