France and Germany have signed a cooperation agreement to design, build and operate the MERLIN satellite devoted to measuring concentrations of atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
The agreement was signed in Berlin on 14th September by Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of France’s CNES space agency, and Dr Gerd Gruppe, Director General of Germany’s DLR. The ceremony took place in the presence of Thierry Mandon, Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, and Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace and Information Technology Policy.
MERLIN (MEthane Remote sensing LIdar missioN) is set to measure concentrations of methane, the second most prolific greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere after carbon dioxide, with unprecedented precision. MERLIN will be launched in 2021 for a mission planned to last at least three years.
MERLIN is built around the new Myriade Evolutions spacecraft bus developed by CNES in partnership with French industry. The payload being developed and built in Germany for DLR with funding from BMWi is an active lidar (LIght Detection And Ranging) instrument. Using a laser, the lidar is able to acquire highly precise day/night measurements of atmospheric methane concentration at all latitudes.
The MERLIN project conducted in partnership with a broad range of German and French research institutes will enable major advances in climate and environmental science.