Use Case: 

How MethaneSAT is using Flyte™ to power a global methane-reduction mission from space

The company

When MethaneSAT launches in October 2023, the satellite — a joint American-New Zealand mission — will measure methane emissions across the globe. The goal? Reduce the harmful greenhouse gas by 45% by 2025

Cutting the methane produced by the oil and gas supply chain — which emits 80 million tons of methane every year around the world, making it the second-largest methane emitter behind agriculture — is the single fastest way to slow global warming today.

The challenge

While other satellites measure either very large or very small areas, MethaneSAT, part of the Environmental Defense Fund, will track oil and gas emissions using an imaging spectrometer that separates the narrow band within the shortwave infrared spectrum where methane absorbs light, allowing the satellite to detect methane concentrations as low as three parts per billion.

With its wider view path, greater precision and advanced analytics, the satellite will track the rate at which methane is being emitted, the localized and wider areas of emissions, and how those emissions are changing, making it easier to prioritize an efficient, cost-effective solution to the problem.

“The teams usually span different business verticals; P&L line items (such as revenue vs. royalties); and specific markets. Specific models belong to specific teams, and those teams are either responsible for specific verticals (like podcast) or horizontal needs (like royalties).”

The solution

Crunching all of this data is no small task, said Nicholas LoFaso, a senior platform software engineer at MethaneSAT. And Flyte — the orchestration engine behind Union Cloud — will be critical to MethaneSAT’s mission.

“Our goal is to use Flyte as our production task orchestrator,” LoFaso said. “We’re going to have 10,000-plus CPUs that we plan to use every day processing the raw data. There'll be 30 different targets that we're collecting data on every day, and it's that's about 200 gigs of raw data, and then our estimate is for final data, we're probably like two terabytes or so on the output. So a lot of data to process, and we're leaning heavily on Flyte to make that happen.”

MethaneSAT’s data processing platform depends heavily on dynamic tasks, launch plans and nested workflows. The platform saves raw data and passes it to the front end to specific science components, Level 1 through Level 4. “To get from raw to Level 4, we need to organize all these tasks together, and that's where Flyte comes in. It’s our backbone for orchestration and task management,” LoFaso said.

The result

MethaneSAT is continuing to optimize its use of Flyte and has enjoyed the collaborative relationship.

“The community here is phenomenal,” LoFaso said. “We wouldn't be where we are when in terms of testing without you all and asking a million questions in Slack and getting answers from everybody. That’s been super helpful.”

And what about performance? Sensors similar to MethaneSAT have already been used on an airplane that has scanned the Permian Basin, a large area of oil and gas production in Texas and New Mexico. What the flight was able to scan in two hours, MethaneSAT will be able to do in 30 seconds. “A fraction of the time, larger area,” LoFaso said. “We're really excited about the capabilities that this project will enable us to do, and Flyte’s going to get us there.”