EMIT Spots Methane Hotspots

  • Released Tuesday, November 1, 2022

A plume of methane – a potent greenhouse gas about 80 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide – is detected flowing from an area southeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico, in an image that uses data from NASA's Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) mission. The 2-mile (3.3-kilometer) long plume originates in an area known as the Permian Basin, which spans parts of southeastern New Mexico and western Texas and is one of the largest oilfields in the world.

EMIT uses an imaging spectrometer to detect the unique pattern of reflected and absorbed light – called a spectral fingerprint – from various materials on Earth's surface and in its atmosphere. Perched on the International Space Station, EMIT was originally intended to map the prevalence of minerals in Earth's arid regions, such as the deserts of Africa and Australia. Scientists verified that EMIT could also detect methane and carbon dioxide when they were checking the accuracy of the image spectrometer's mineral data.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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This page was originally published on Tuesday, November 1, 2022.
This page was last updated on Monday, July 15, 2024 at 12:25 AM EDT.