Maxar’s WorldView-3 Enables Low-Concentration Methane Detection from Space

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Andreas Hayden, Joseph Christy


Methane is large contributor to climate change; for this reason, detecting and eliminating sources of methane emissions is a key element to minimizing the effects of on-going climate change. While there are a variety of methods currently used to detect methane emissions, ranging from ground-based sensors to aerial sensors like drones and aircraft, satellite detections provide a broad-area coverage addition to these other methods. Satellites are ideally situated to perform detections worldwide and continually monitor areas of concern.
In this paper, we present our WorldView-3 results from the 2022 Stanford Controlled Methane Release Experiment and describe how this experiment enabled us to uncover a misinterpretation of our spectral absorbance data base. In the single blind, controlled release experiment, our detection algorithms using Maxar’s WorldView-3 satellite and its shortwave infrared (SWIR) sensor was able to correctly detect and quantify emissions down to 33 kg per hour (kg/hr). The Stanford experiment was so well designed and executed that we quickly determined that our mass flow-rate (MFR) estimation included roughly a factor-of-2 error, which was the result of misinterpreting the data in the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) spectral database. Once we uncovered and corrected the misinterpretation, our MFR aligned with the ground truth data.



Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology


methane, remote sensing, WorldView-3, controlled release, satellite


Published: 2023-05-25 03:39

Last Updated: 2023-06-14 14:33

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Conflict of interest statement:
The authors have no competing interests to declare

Data Availability (Reason not available):
data is commercially available