Scientists would soon be able to tell the exact measure of methane in the atmosphere with the help of a new, highly accurate instrument.
Haris Riris, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is advancing a Methane Sounder.
The scientific community would benefit enormously from such a capability, Riris said.
"Understanding current global methane trends is a difficult challenge that cannot be resolved by existing measurement networks or current satellite observations," he said.
Haris and his team will further improve the prototype instrument and then test it during a NASA DC-8 aircraft campaign later this year.
"We're working to come up with a design that we think will work in space," Riris said. Since initially flying the concept on a DC-8 research aircraft in 2011, he said his team had developed a better instrument.
"Our goal is to prove that the technique works and meets precision and accuracy requirements," he added.
On Earth, methane is an important greenhouse gas and is in some respects more worrisome than CO2. It is more potent and effective at absorbing heat.