Is California going to launch its own satellite to monitor climate change?

Gov. Jerry Brown says California will move forward with plans to launch a satellite into space in order to monitor climate change. He made the announcement at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

“With science still under attack and the climate threat growing, we’re launching our own damn satellite,” Brown said at the end of the summit. “This groundbreaking initiative will help governments, businesses, and landowners pinpoint — and stop — destructive emissions with unprecedented precision, on a scale that’s never been done before.”

The L.A. Times reports that the state will be developing the satellite alongside Planet Labs based out of San Francisco. The Earth-imaging company was founded in 2010 by a team of former NASA employees. The objective of the satellite is to monitor the buildup of pollutants.

Robbie Schingler, one of the company’s founders, says that he is hopeful that this satellite will provide instructive data regarding the usefulness of satellites for monitoring and working to combat climate change.

While this satellite is intended to help combat climate change, the state is open to launching others if this project is a success. However, Brown is set to leave office in 2019, so it will be up to his successor to follow through on his plans for a satellite. If the next governor doesn’t support the plan, it could become much harder to get off the ground.

Despite present support for the project, the first satellite is still several years away. Currently, the California Air Resources Board is working on developing the technologies and systems needed for the satellite to accurately monitor for pollutants. The data gathered by the satellite would then be made public through a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that Brown has discussed the idea of California launching its own satellite. In the 1970s, he suggested launching one to help handle communications during emergencies. That project never got off the ground, but it followed Brown throughout his political career. He never quite got over the nickname “Governor Moonbeam,” but, then again, he has been re-elected several times, so maybe he no longer needs to fight it.

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