Nasa launches virtual greenhouse gas centre to share climate data

Space agency will share real-time information on locations producing carbon dioxide and methane

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Nasa has launched a website,, that will soon monitor locations around the world that are producing greenhouse gases.

Nasa administrator Senator Bill Nelson revealed details at a Future Talks event held at Dubai's Museum of the Future on Tuesday.

He said the open-source website will use data from Nasa satellites to track greenhouse gases, which get trapped in Earth’s atmosphere and cause the planet to heat up.

“It will give us the detail of the two greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide and methane – and their locations,” he said.

Methane is one of the most potent of the greenhouse gases
Senator Bill Nelson

“And methane is one of the most potent of the greenhouse gases.”

The plan for a new website was revealed at Cop28, but Senator Nelson took the opportunity on Tuesday to expand on the concept – adding that Nasa last year launched the Emit imaging instrument, which has been tracking these gases.

“What we didn't know was that it (the Emit instrument) also discovered very specifically where methane emissions were coming from the Earth,” said Senator Nelson.

“We can tell you where methane is coming from, not only to put our finger on the polluters, but also to let the polluters know.

“They may not know that they're emitting methane and they can take some corrective action.”

Government agencies, non-profit organisations and private sector firms will be able to share data, along with observations from the International Space Station.

Challenger disaster

Senator Nelson, who travelled to space in 1986, also shared his experiences as an astronaut.

He said the infamous Challenger explosion that killed seven astronauts happened only 10 days after his return to Earth.

“Whenever you strap into a rocket, you know that you're taking a risk,” he said.

“In our case, the space shuttle had 1,500 parts, any one of which could have failed.”

Safety first

UAE astronauts Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazza Al Mansouri were speaking alongside Senator Nelson.

Dr Al Neyadi, who returned from his six-month mission in September, said he was glad his launch in March was delayed two minutes before lift-off.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which was carrying Dr Al Neyadi, two Nasa astronauts and a cosmonaut, had an issue with its ignition fluid.

The technical problem was solved 24 hours later and the astronauts set off safely to the International Space Station (ISS).

“We are glad that decision happened,” said Dr Al Neyadi.

“I think there was better communication that the vehicle was not ready to launch that day.

“Even if it was a second before lift-off, that is totally acceptable.”

Mission to the Moon

Maj Al Mansouri, who went on an eight-day mission to the ISS in 2019, said he hopes that UAE astronauts will go on missions to the Moon in future.

Nasa has launched the Artemis programme to send humans to the lunar surface for longer missions.

Nora Al Matrooshi, the first Emirati woman to be selected as an astronaut, and Mohammed Al Mulla, are both training at Nasa's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

Their class patch shows an astronaut reaching for the Moon.

“They're going to graduate soon, hopefully next year by February or March,” said Ms Al Mansouri.

“That shows how strong the relationship is between Nasa and MBRSC [Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre].

“Hopefully, we'll go back to the Moon and to Mars in future.”

Nasa hopes to launch Artemis 2, a crewed mission around the Moon, next year.

Artemis 3, the first human lunar landing in more than 50 years, could happen by 2027.

Updated: December 05, 2023, 1:48 PM