Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) announced the SFL-built GHGSat greenhouse gas monitoring microsatellites have achieved sustained detection and measurement of methane emissions at double the design capacity of the satellites.
Under contract to GHGSat, SFL developed all nine operational 15-kilogram GHGSat spacecraft on its low-cost, high-performance NEMO microsatellite bus.
In addition, the GHGSat-D demonstration satellite, CLAIRE, developed by SFL and launched in 2016 has exceeded its operational design life by more than two years. The eight commercial satellites, GHGSat-C1-C8, launched individually and in clusters since 2020, are in excellent health.
“The SFL-built satellites have exceeded our expectations regarding technological performance. Each satellite is now making twice as many emission measurements per day as originally planned,” said GHGSat President Stephane Germain. “This performance has enabled us to push our monitoring capability further, helping more clients better understand and reduce their emissions.”
GHGSat is the world leader in detecting and measuring greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources on the Earth’s surface from space. The Montreal company provides its monitoring services commercially to industries that include oil and gas, power generation, mining, waste management, and agriculture.
“SFL is pleased to play an important role in GHGSat’s global success by developing its core company-owned satellite assets,” said SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee. “At SFL, we take pride in building affordable small satellites that outperform – often exceeding operational specifications and outlasting their design lives.”
SFL, which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year, will discuss the GHGSat and other programs in its exhibit booth at the World Satellite Business Week (WSBW) conference in Paris, September 11-15, 2023.
GHGSat chose SFL to develop the breakthrough CLAIRE demonstration mission due in part to SFL’s expertise in implementing advanced attitude control and stability technologies that enable smaller spacecraft to accurately point sensors at targets on the ground. With the demand of attitude and tracking performance that was rare in satellites of that size, this capability was crucial to GHGSat’s mission objectives.
Attitude control is just one of several technological factors contributing to the better-than-anticipated collection capacity of the GHGSat microsatellites, explained Zee. SFL incorporates robust design margins into every satellite, and these include the onboard power systems, data storage, and downlink capacities. These margins in orbit translate into better operations and longer missions.
SFL’s 25-year heritage includes 70 operational successes totaling 265 cumulative years in orbit, with an additional 26 satellites under development or awaiting launch. SFL offers a complete suite of nano-, micro- and small satellites – including high-performance, low-cost CubeSats – that satisfy the needs of a broad range of mission types from 3 to 500 kilograms. These missions relate to Earth observation, atmospheric monitoring, ship tracking, communication, radio frequency (RF) geolocation, technology demonstration, space astronomy, solar physics, space plasma, and other scientific research.
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