The Lidar department of the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics contributes substantially to the German-French satellite mission Merlin (‚Methane Remote Sensing LIDAR Mission‘). At the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference “COP 21” in Paris, Brigitte Zypries, German Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, and Thierry Mandon, French Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, underlined the role of spaceborne earth observation to document and investigate the climate change.
The payload is an active LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) instrument and is being developed and built in Germany under the supervision of DLR and funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Using a laser to emit light in two different wavelengths, the LIDAR is able to acquire highly precise day/night measurements of atmospheric methane concentration at all latitudes. Germany and France will jointly process and evaluate the data gained from the mission through the close involvement of research laboratories, which are making a vital contribution towards defining science targets, technical developments and validating the system. MERLIN will be launched in 2020, and will orbit Earth at an altitude of 500 kilometres.
Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Its contribution is therefore significant. The goal of MERLIN is to learn more about the underlying processes of the methane cycle by characterising sources of the gas – both natural (wetlands, thawing permafrost, etc.) and anthropogenic (transport and burning of coal, natural gas and ruminant livestock, etc.).
Contact: Dr. Gerhard Ehret
Link: Merlin homepage of the DLR Space Administration