New Zealand to launch new satellite that will measure cow farts

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New Zealand will launch a new satellite that will orbit the earth observing methane produced by cow burps and farts.

Agriculture is one of the country’s biggest producers of the greenhouse gases that continue to contribute to the climate crisis.

The gases produced by its 6.3 million-strong cow population are one of their most critical problems.

Methane makes up 43% of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions with the majority of it being produced through farming cattle with windy digestive systems.

But soon, New Zealand will launch a "MethaneSAT" to view the problem from space to track cow farts with “with unprecedented accuracy," the government claims.

The 350kg satellite will circle the earth at 28 times the speed of sound and will operate in partnership with teams at Harvard University, USA.

The university studies focus on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, including tracking leaks on long pipelines.

The New Zealand science team will focus more on agriculture.

Greenhouse-gas researcher Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher, who will lead that research effort, told Stuff the satellite would use New Zealand as a testing ground for checking the accuracy of its agri-methane detection.

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Many countries don't have accurate records of methane emissions.

Minister for research, science and innovation, Megan Woods claims the new research will “increase [New Zealand’s] reputation for future space missions and provide vital data to support our own climate change policy.”

Due to be launched next year, MethaneSAT was partly funded by the New Zealand government, and the United States Environmental Defense Fund, among others.

  • Animals
  • Space

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