Ball Aerospace’s Advanced Spectrometer Instrument Completes PDR for MethaneSAT

Ball Aerospace has successfully completed the preliminary design review (PDR) of the advanced spectrometer instrument for the MethaneSAT Flight System, a 350 kg. satellite that will locate and measure methane emissions around the globe — with the completion of PDR, Ball will proceed with the critical design phase.

MethaneSAT is expected to be launched in 2022 by MethaneSAT LLC, a subsidiary of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The non-profit is dedicated to creating innovative science-based solutions to critical environment challenges, including anthropogenic methane emissions, a significant contributor to global climate change.

Two extremely sensitive spectrometers sit at the heart of the Ball-designed instrument that will measure a narrow part of the shortwave infrared spectrum where methane absorbs light, allowing it to detect concentrations as low as two parts per billion. In addition to the MethaneSAT instrument, Ball Aerospace is providing flight systems integration and testing, launch support, and commissioning services.

Artistic rendition of the Environmental Defense Fund’ MethaneSAT.

Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, VP and GM, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace, said the firm is excited to be a part of a mission that aims to study and address the impact of methane on the environment and climate. MethaneSAT fits well with Ball’s long history of Earth science.

Mission co-lead Dr. Steven Hamburg, who also serves as Chief Scientist for Environmental Defense Fund, noted that MethaneSAT is built around a set of high performance technologies and sophisticated analytics tools that, when combined, provide a major leap in the ability to measure and quantify even low-level methane emissions across the globe from space. A lot is being asked of the technical partners and Ball Aerospace is rising to the occasion.

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