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    Canada launches Methane Monitoring Satellite


Launch delayed repeatedly by Covid-19, weather

by: Dale Lunan

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Canada launches Methane Monitoring Satellite

After a delay of nearly six months, GHGSAT-C1, the latest generation of methane-monitoring satellite developed by Montreal-based GHGSat, was launched September 2 from French Guiana. It was one of 53 satellites aboard Arianespace’s Vega launcher flight VV16.

It was initially scheduled to be launched in March, but Covid-19 delayed all launches at Guianas Kourou International Spaceport until June 18. Then came a series of delays related to the weather – first at Kourou with high-altitude winds and then in South Korea when Typhoon Maysak swept over a telemetry station on Jeru Island.

Nicknamed Iris, the satellite is the second put into orbit by GHGSat, following the launch of Claire in 2016. The launch sequence can be viewed here.

First radio contact was made with Iris less than two hours after its launch at 7:51pm Mountain Time. 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.

“Iris is the first of a new constellation of satellites that utilises patented technology to detect emissions from sources 100 times smaller than any other satellite system, and with a resolution 100 times higher,” GHGSat said. “This means GHGSat can image and identify methane emissions from point sources as small as individual oil and gas wells.”

GHGSat’s capabilities to monitor and identify methane leaks will be further enhanced later this year, when its third satellite, Hugo, is launched. By the end of 2022, GHGSat plans to have 10 high-resolution satellites in orbit, making it the “global reference” for space-based greenhouse-gas emission monitoring.