Astronauts spot the world’s biggest pollutants from the space station

Astronauts spot the world’s biggest pollutants from the space station

This is huge.


Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are on a mission to expose the biggest pollutants below.

How NASA wrote this week, the agency installed methane gas visualization software on the ISS over the summer. Called the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation Project (EMIT for short), the initiative aims to help scientists better understand the role airborne dust plays in the greenhouse effect that has such harmful effects on our climate.

That it was able to capture the chemical signature of methane was more of a byproduct than its core mission, but it has now been able to identify more than 50 “superemitters” of the gas that include “facilities, equipment and other infrastructure.” , typically in the fossil fuel, waste or agriculture sectors, which emit methane at high rates.” Shame on you polluters!

Endless possibilities

Now that the agency knows how powerful the possibilities of the EMIT program are, they are ready to take it even further.

“Reducing methane emissions is key to limiting global warming. This exciting new development will not only help researchers better identify where methane leaks are coming from, but also provide insights into how they can be quickly addressed,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. the agency’s report. “EMIT is proving to be a critical tool in our toolbox for measuring this powerful greenhouse gas and stopping it at its source.”

How CNET pointed out in their EMIT reports, the data is particularly important because both 2021 and this year have seen record increases in the emission of methane into the atmosphere since measurement began in the early 1980s. These increases appear to correspond to increased methane-producing activity, such as fossil fuel production and improper waste management.

Bottom line: Having this new ability to detect methane emissions from above will be crucial to identifying and hopefully stopping or slowing down the world’s biggest polluters—if governments get on board, that is.

More climate curiosities: Carbon dioxide appears to make trees grow faster, scientists say

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