Spanish King introduced to Dutch earth observation

19 april 2024 News

Spanish King Felipe and Dutch King Willem-Alexander visited ESA’s test center ESTEC in Noordwijk on Thursday, April 18. They took a tour around the cleanrooms and were informed about the Dutch-Spanish cooperation in the field of methane research. On behalf of SRON, Ilse Aben and Mari Martinez Velarte explained how the Dutch satellite instrument TROPOMI scans the entire earth every day for large methane plumes.

ESTEC is the technical heart of the European Space Agency (ESA), of which the Netherlands and Spain are co-founders. All European space programs are initiated and managed there. In addition, European satellites are extensively tested at ESTEC before they go into space.

One of the focus points of the visit was the collaboration between the Netherlands and Spain in the field of atmospheric research, in particular into methane emissions. Methane is responsible for about 30% of global warming. The Netherlands and Spain are working together to discover major sources of methane emissions with the Dutch satellite instrument TROPOMI and satellites that zoom in to pinpoint leaks more accurately.

Aben: ‘At SRON we analyze that satellite data and identify dozens of large methane plumes every week. We see worldwide leakage with a larger climate impact than all greenhouse gas emissions in The Netherlands. And we’re not even counting the smaller leaks, of a few tons of methane per hour or less. Satellites have opened our eyes to super-large methane leaks that can be closed with existing technology at low cost.’

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