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Methane satellite mission control in New Zealand

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook.

Mission Control for an international space mission to help tackle climate change will be based in New Zealand.

The Government is putting $26 million towards the state-of-the-art satellite, says Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

The MethaneSAT is designed to locate and measure methane from human sources worldwide, which will provide the data to track and reduce those emissions. A key feature of the agreement that has been signed is that the mission control centre will be located in New Zealand.

“This is an ambitious science partnership between New Zealand and the Environmental Defense Fund that will see New Zealand at the forefront of developing and applying world-leading technology to the global challenge of managing greenhouse gas emissions,” Megan says.

“This investment will build important capability in our rapidly growing space sector and put New Zealand at the global frontier of science and innovation by building partnerships with world-leading atmospheric scientists.

“Climate change is a complex, global issue that this government is committed to addressing. We are delivering on that commitment through this Space mission.”

 The methane satellite is yet another step towards achieving the government’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, following significant investments this year, including $8.5 million in the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases to reduce and mitigate agricultural emissions, and $25 million for the Agricultural Climate Change Research Platform to support New Zealand research to help agriculture deal with the effects of climate change, she says.

“While the Environmental Defense Fund’s initial priority for the mission is to collect emissions data from the oil and gas industry, we will investigate the possibility of New Zealand using the data to lead an agricultural science component of the mission.”

MethaneSAT is scheduled to launch in 2022. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and EDF will confirm the location of the New Zealand-based mission control centre and New Zealand’s role in the launch and the science components of the mission in coming months.

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