Catalyst: Strategic - MethaneSAT atmospheric science project

MBIE is committing $6 million to support an atmospheric science research project using data from MethaneSAT.

MethaneSAT is a state-of-the-art satellite that is being designed to detect global methane emissions with unprecedented accuracy. MBIE is contributing $26 million towards the mission to deliver two key outputs: an atmospheric science research project (the science project) and a satellite mission operations control centre (MOCC) which will provide a set of functional capabilities for the command, control and support of the satellite, and will effectively run the mission once the satellite is launched. The Centre will be hosted in a university to maximise opportunities for capability development and to support future missions. A separate investment process is being run to deliver on the strict technical requirements for MethaneSAT’s MOCC.

The Atmospheric Science research project

MBIE will provide $6 million of funding from Catalyst: Strategic to fund a science project to investigate applications of the satellite’s data for New Zealand. This will include research into how the data could be used to better understand methane emissions from the agricultural sector.

MBIE is presently seeking a science leader for the project. The science leader will be responsible for developing a research proposal that includes a world-class research team from across New Zealand’s atmospheric science sector. We intend for the New Zealand team to work closely with a Harvard University-led research team that is using MethaneSAT to detect emissions from the oil and gas industry. Representatives from the Harvard team will attend the session via video-conference.

Applications for the position of science leader are now open. Details on applying for the science leader can be found in the Expression of Interest (EOI):

MethaneSAT Science Leader EOI [PDF, 306 KB]

Who can apply?

Applications for the science leader position are open to current employees of New Zealand research organisations. For further details on eligibility, please refer to the EOI.

Investment objectives

MBIE is seeking to fund a science research programme that will:

  • develop excellent research, using the data gathered by MethaneSAT, for addressing the challenges that methane emissions pose for New Zealand
  • create new and world-leading methods for using satellite sensors to measure agricultural methane emissions
  • advance New Zealand’s satellite-based atmospheric science capability, enabling future research projects to use the data gathered by MethaneSAT to build on the programme’s research outcomes
  • build successful collaboration models with the established US-based science team, as well as any other international research partners, to maximise domestic capability development, the potential for future research collaborations, and New Zealand’s scientific reputation and credibility
  • effectively engage with potential end-users of MethaneSAT‘s data, ensuring that the programme’s research outcomes will have the greatest possible benefits in New Zealand and internationally.

The application and assessment process

Applicants must submit an EOI via email to Based on the information provided, MBIE will internally review the submissions against the selection criteria to shortlist several top candidates. Applications will be scored against their overall fit to the selection criteria and may still be shortlisted if they do not have a strong expertise in particular criteria. Applicants will be notified of whether they have been shortlisted via email.

The shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an interview panel comprising MBIE officials and a US-based representative from the MethaneSAT mission. To help prepare for the interview panel, shortlisted candidates will be provided with additional information and potential questions.

The interview panel will inform MBIE’s MethaneSAT Steering Group of their recommended candidate for the Science Leader at the conclusion of the interview process. The final decision will be made by the General Manager of Science, Innovation and International.

MBIE will advise all interviewed candidates of the decision via email. Following notification, the Government will publish this decision and announce it in a press release.

Important dates

11 May 2020 Science Leader EOI Deadline
15 May 2020 MBIE advises candidates of shortlist decisions
Late May 2020 Shortlisted candidates interviewed
Early June 2020 Science Leader announced
2020-2021 Science Leader builds research team and develops the Programme

Contact us

For more information, email

Last updated: 09 April 2020