When many people think of space technology, they think of futuristic or sci-fi concepts with little to do with life on Earth. However, space technology could have a drastic impact on real-world concerns. It already does!
Much of the information we rely on in the modern world – from weather predictors to GPS – comes from satellites in space. It doesn’t matter if it is a large research body or a UK space company making small rockets. Space innovations have a tangible impact. This includes targeting environmental issues and seeking solutions. Here’s just some of what modern space tech companies are currently developing to help combat climate change!
What Environmental Issues Does the World Face?
Climate change, or global warming, is currently one of the most pressing political and economic challenges that the world confronts. The planet has been warming for decades, and scientists fear that if this continues – even by a few degrees – life on Earth will become untenable. Humans will face droughts, food shortages, severe heat waves, and
unbreathable air in many parts of the world. This warming is also set to gain momentum and increase as the planet warms. This sets in motion feedback loops that will contribute to things like melting ice and increasing sea levels.
Warming also threatens our food supply and weather patterns as it kills off varied species of insect and marine life that help regulate natural ecosystems. Some scientists fear that warming has already gone too far and that the Earth will continue to warm by more than two degrees over the coming century.
How Space Technology Can Help Combat Environmental Issues
● Methane Tracking Satellite Technology
When it comes to environmental issues, air pollution is one of the most significant problems. Air pollution is often made worse by fossil fuel emissions, resulting from burning natural fuels such as oil, coal, or gas. One of the biggest air pollutants that result from fossil fuels is methane gas. Estimates suggest that gas companies alone produce around 75 million tons of methane per year.
One space project that aims to tackle these environmental issues is MethaneSAT. It is a satellite developed by EDF and MethaneSAT LLC. It aims to pinpoint problem areas of high methane release from space and produce data about its origin and effects. This can help companies understand their carbon footprint, make appropriate changes, and help environmentalists spot naturally occurring methane pockets.
● Advanced Weather Pattern Predictions
Having advanced warnings of natural disasters can save lives. Space satellites are vital for this as they help scientists read weather patterns and predict where problems may arise. Environmental issues related to water shortages are something that many scientists are extremely worried about as parts of Earth become increasingly arid and experience less rainfall.
By predicting where droughts or heatwaves are likely to occur, governments will be able to take action to protect populations from the worst effects. Rainfall also affects crop growth, and space satellites can be used to predict places where there are likely to be famines. This type of space weather technology will become increasingly important because weather patterns are destabilized by climate change, and extreme weather events become more
● Increased Supply-Chain Efficiency
Regarding company practices and environmental issues, statistics suggest that inefficiencies in supply-chain management can cause a huge rise in carbon outputs. An example of this would be the shipping industry, where inefficient routes often cause goods to be at sea longer than necessary. Fresh produce contributes to waste and also leads to more fuel being burnt. Using advanced satellite GPS and tracking technology, ships will be able to find
faster, more efficient routes for delivering goods, thereby slashing their environmental
● Renewable Energy Mapping
Just as satellite technology could help us pinpoint areas likely to experience famine or drought, it could also help map areas that are great for renewable energy. This includes collecting data on remote areas where wind farms or solar panels could be placed. It could also provide data on the weather conditions in these areas and prevent inefficiencies in discovering renewable sites.
● Mining on Other Planets
As space technology and our knowledge of other planets increases, it is possible that humans could sustainably mine fuel from uninhabited planets. This could potentially reduce pollution rates on Earth and prevent the need for fossil fuels. While there is still a great deal of information and data to be gathered about this possibility, many scientists consider it feasible.
When we consider environmental issues, climate change is one of the greatest challenges that springs to mind. Space technology will likely continue to play a vital role in tackling this challenge. The role of space technology will also likely increase as innovation continues and as discoveries about space continue to be made.