Thursday, December 13, 2018

GHGSat, ABB and UTIAS SFL Providing a "Made in Canada" Solution for Global Emissions Tracking

          By Chuck Black

The Quebec City PQ based ABB Canada measurement & analytics business unit is building sensors for the third in a series of upcoming microsats planned by Montreal PQ based GHGSat and, according to GHGSat president Stephane Germain, it most certainly makes sense to source out high quality Canadian based suppliers for Canadian based projects, especially if they come with the capabilities possessed by ABB.

The GHGSat-D short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) optical sensor. According to Germain, the follow-on sensors for the second and third satellites will be manufactured to the same successful, patented design but will also contain a variety of incremental, but useful improvements. "For example, the sensor for GHGSat-C2, will contain a new detector for improved performance." Photo c/o GHGSat

"We think we have a strong partnership with both ABB and the University of Toronto Institute of  Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) Space Flight Laboratories (SFL)," he said during a recent interview with this blog.

As outlined in the November 29th, 2018 ABB press release, "ABB to manufacture an optical sensor for GHGSat," ABB has previously provided key hardware contribution to sensors flying on leading Earth observation missions including the NASA led Aura satellite (EOS CH-1) studying the Earth's ozone layer, air quality and climate, the NASA TERRA satellite (EOS AM-1), the Canadian SciSat‑1, the Japanese GOSAT 1 and GOSAT 2 greenhouse gas observing satellites, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership weather satellite (Suomi NPP), various satellites of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and quite a few others.

ABB operates close to 50 facilities and employs approximately 4,000 people across Canada. The company was most recently profiled in the November 8th, 2018 post, "Canada's "Signature" Contribution to GOSAT-2."

SFL, the third partner in the group, contributed its Gryphon Bus (GNB) technology for the first satellite in the series and expects to use the same bus for the next two. The bus measures 20 cm by 20 cm by 40 cm and is capable of peak power generation up to 80 W. It weighs 15 kg, 9 kg of which is dedicated to the payload, according to the SFL website.

SFL also has a storied history and was most recently cited in the August 2nd, 2018 post, "Airbus Competing Against Thales/ Maxar to Design and Build the 117 Satellite Telesat Constellation," as being a subcontractor to Palo Alto, CA based SSL (a subsidiary of Westminster CO based Maxar Technologies) in a potential satellite contract with Ottawa ON based Telesat.

Artist impression of two GHGSat's in orbit. According to Gunter's Web page, the first GHGSat-D (the "demonstrator") launched in 2016 and demonstrated "an advanced miniature hyperspectral SWIR imaging spectrometer for monitoring targeted greenhouse gas emitters such as area fugitive sources (tailing ponds and landfills) and stacks (emissions such as flaring and venting)." The next two satellites in the series (GHGSat C1 & C2) will help build out "a commercial constellation of greenhouse gas monitoring satellites as part of a service provided by GHGSat Inc." Image c/o GHGSat.

Germain is also quick to note that the business plan for his company is also moving forward.

As outlined in the September 28th, 2018 post, "GHGSat Raises $10Mln US in Series A2 Financing; Gains Access to Worlds Largest Oil and Gas Customers," his firm recently raised US$10Mln US ($13Mln CDN) in Series A2 financing in a deal led by the London UK based OGCI Climate Investments.

OGCI is the billion dollar investment arm of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) a voluntary, CEO-led initiative composed of approximately a dozen of the world's top oil and gas companies. OGCI was "created to pool knowledge and collaborate on action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" according to the OGCI website.

That deal also included financial backing from Houston TX based Schlumberger (the world's largest oilfield services company), the New York NY based Space Angels Network and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), a Montreal PQ based crown corporation.

"We've got a couple of good fiscal partners, too" said Germain, smiling. His next two satellites should be launching in 2020.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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