FAQ

What is Carbon Mapper?

Carbon Mapper is both a nonprofit organization and a program to monitor and help accelerate reductions in global methane and carbon dioxide emissions. The Carbon Mapper program partners are: Planet; the State of California; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); the University of Arizona; Arizona State University (ASU); High Tide Foundation; and RMI.

How is Carbon Mapper’s approach different from past or current initiatives?

Setting aside technological differences, the most unique aspect of Carbon Mapper’s approach is the coalition we’ve assembled to create a sustained decision support service that offers persistent, actionable and transparent monitoring of facility-scale methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for key sectors and regions globally. Our implementation team is composed of commercial space, public sector agencies, and non-governmental institutions to collectively overcome some long-standing barriers to deploying operational greenhouse gas monitoring systems at scale.

How will Carbon Mapper data actually translate to emission reductions?

Infrared imaging spectroscopy offers the ability to pinpoint, quantify and track high-emission methane and CO2 point sources at the scale of individual facilities in key sectors. Our pilot programs with aircraft prototypes of our satellites demonstrate that by getting that data into the hands of decision-makers in a timely fashion and in a form that’s actionable, operators can often diagnose and correct problems at the source. When scaled up globally with our satellites, Carbon Mapper data will help accelerate and support emission reduction efforts by operators, regulators, community groups, and major international programs including the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, the Global Methane Pledge and the International Methane Emissions Observatory.

How is the Carbon Mapper program different from other methane monitoring satellites?

For methane and CO2 monitoring, Carbon Mapper is designed to detect and track up to 80-90% of high-emission point sources globally. Our constellation of satellites will uniquely be able to reach this level of completeness through a combination of sensitivity (detection limit) for individual emission plumes, spatial coverage, and sampling frequency.

In addition to tracking methane emissions, Carbon Mapper will also monitor fossil fuel CO2 emissions and deliver 25 other environmental indicators useful for ecosystem management and incident response on land and at sea. This provides significant flexibility that supports commercial services sufficient to build out the fully operational constellation while sustaining Carbon Mapper’s public good mission of delivering transparent methane and CO2 emissions data.

Carbon Mapper will monitor priority regions around the world to detect, pinpoint and quantify methane and CO2 emissions from individual facilities including highly intermittent activity. Our system’s agility and flexible targeting also allows for rapid follow-up for hotspots identified by wider-area mapping satellites such as the European Sentinels and EDF’s MethaneSAT. Carbon Mapper is intended to serve as a major tier of an emerging global system of observing systems and complement the other satellite programs.