Lift-Off for New Zealand Space Mission

New Zealand’s first government-funded space mission has taken a giant leap.

Auckland University’s Te Pūnaha Ātea-Auckland Space Institute has been announced as the permanent host of the New Zealand based mission control centre for a global methane tracking satellite.

“MethaneSAT is a really exciting opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s science and research expertise on the world stage while making a significant contribution to climate change by mapping agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases,” expressed Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

“It’s great to see Auckland University, with the help of Rocket Lab, playing such a key role.”

Mission Operations Control Centre (MOCC) for the mission will be managed by Rocket Lab. Once it is running smoothly, it will be transferred to Te Pūnaha Ātea-Auckland Space Institute as the host.

“This international partnership will accelerate our capability in our rapidly growing space sector, increase our reputation for future space missions and provide vital data to support our own climate change policy,” continued Woods.

“The mission will see the New Zealand Space Agency partner with one of the world’s leading environmental NGOs, The Environmental Defence Fund, which will also include a team of leading New Zealand atmospheric science and remote sensing researchers led by NIWA’s Dr Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher.”

In addition to its agricultural emissions research, the New Zealand science team will work with the US-based science team that’s leading the mission’s science on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The US team is led by the University of Harvard in close partnership with The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.