Satellites secure communication and track methane emissions
An increase in satellite constellations gives a boost to various applications of satellite technology, ranging from internet services to pollution monitoring. In this new Horizons, we discuss both the ins and outs from these two applications.
Satellites secure resilient communication
Satellite internet has long served as a backstop when other communications infrastructure is no longer available because of natural disasters, war, or other emergencies. The war in Ukraine and the volcano eruption in the Tonga archipelago are two recent examples of such crises and in both cases government officials in these regions asked and received help from Elon Musk’s satellite company Starlink. As satellite technology continues its rapid evolution, its vitality to network resiliency will only grow, making it more important for governments to incorporate satellite networks into their communication resilience plans. In the US, for instance, local governments and federal agencies pre-purchase satellite services in preparation of storm season. The European Union, meanwhile, laid out plans for a satellite communications program a few days before Russia invaded the Ukraine. By building a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, the region would become less dependent on foreign companies (such as Starlink) and improve the resilience of the telecommunication infrastructures at the same time. With the integration of satellites, a truly ubiquitous network is emerging that leverages all communication transport types: fixed, mobile and satellite!
Broaden Your Horizons
- Since before World War II the US dollar has been the dominant global trading currency, but sanctions and inflation are putting pressure on the dollar. Quartz speculates on the potential dollar replacements.
- This Futurism article discusses how Meta is criticized for its plans to take a cut on assets sold in its work-in-progress metaverse.
- With both private firms and governments launching more satellites than ever before, it is a good thing that the US will stop testing missiles that destroy satellites in orbit.
Satellites help track methane emissions
In addition to providing internet access, satellites are also used to track methane emissions. Methane is a greenhouse gas that can have an outsized impact on global warming, particularly in the short term. It accounts for about 30% of global warming today. Deploying satellite monitoring to find leaks from landfills, pipelines and mines, and stop the leaks could have immediate benefits to the climate. Not all emissions are accidentally, however. Recent satellite data unveiled a spike in methane emissions over Russia due to intentional releases by Gazprom. Known in the industry as ‘venting’, this is a common practice by oil and gas operators globally, despite there being technologies to process methane in a way less harmful to the climate. The IEA estimates that global methane emissions from the energy sector are about 70% higher than nations officially report. As the latest IPCC report shows, current climate policies will not limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius. Nevertheless, if all producing countries would take sufficient action, global methane emissions from oil and gas operations could fall by more than 90%.
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, sign up here.
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