Emission management

Newly Launched Satellites Ready To Track Down Pipeline Leaks

Six satellites are expected to be launched this year to form a constellation aimed at combating emissions along oil and gas pipelines.

Source: Orbital Sidekick.

A new pair of dishwasher-sized satellites has been sent into orbit to monitor emissions of oil and gas pipelines located around the world.

Developed by startup company Orbital Sidekick, the Global Hyperspectral Observation Satellites, or GHOSt 1 and GHOSt 2, will analyze hundreds of bands of light to detect the presence of hydrocarbons that might be leaking from pipelines.

The two satellites were launched as part of a rideshare mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that lifted off from California on 15 April.

Founded in 2016, the San Francisco-based Orbital Sidekick highlights that the imaging technology it has designed has a ground sampling distance of 8 m, which it claims is the highest resolution offered by a commercial satellite. Additionally, the company is also able to detect shifts in ground vegetation, which may indicate a subsurface leak from a buried pipeline.

Some clients, such as pipeline operator The Williams Company, have previously said they also plan to use the satellite data to show that assets are free of leaks, which in turn may enable them to sell carbon credits. Other US-based clients include pipeline companies ONEOK, Energy Transfer, and Colonial Pipeline Co.

Orbital Sidekick said it plans to launch four more GHOSt satellites by year’s end that it said will also be used by mining companies and the US Department of Defense.