November 6, 2019 / 6:04 AM / 17 days ago

New Zealand base for methane-measuring satellite mission

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A satellite mission to measure global methane emissions from oil and gas facilities will be based in New Zealand, the government said on Wednesday, in a collaboration with a U.S. environmental group.

The MethaneSAT, due to be launched in 2022, is designed to locate and measure methane from human sources worldwide, and will provide data to track and reduce those emissions, the government said in a statement.

The project with the Environmental Defense Fund, a U.S.-based non profit group, marks New Zealand’s first collaboration in a state-funded space mission.

It will host the mission control center for the satellite, to be launched in 2022, and invest NZ$26 million ($16.6 million) in the project.

“A key part of the NZ$26 million investment will be funding the construction and operation of the New Zealand base mission control center,” Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods told a media conference.

“It will enable us to grow our capabilities in the space sector and to participate in future space missions.”

While the initial priority is to collect emissions data from the oil and gas industry, New Zealand will also investigate the possibility of using the data to study agricultural emissions.

Controlling emissions from livestock is a big focus for New Zealand, which has set a goal for the country to be carbon neutral by 2025.

Reporting by Besa Chembo; editing by Praveen Menon and Richard Pullin

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