Ball Aerospace is known for its contributions in support of space and Earth science, exploration, national security and intelligence programs since 1956. We produce spacecraft, instruments and sensors, radio frequency and microwave technologies, laser remote sensing systems, data exploitation solutions and a variety of advanced aerospace technologies and products that provide critical data to stakeholders and inform decisions about the future of our Earth.
Ball Aerospace technologies enable key Earth science and operational weather missions, including environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, emission tracking and water usage observation. We provide environmental intelligence on weather, the Earth's climate system, precipitation, drought, air pollution, severe storms, vegetation and biodiversity measurements.
The data captured through Ball-built instruments helps decision makers develop strategies to reduce their footprint. We also provide critical information about global water resources to help eliminate wasteful overwatering, reduce water pollution related to land use and support water resource allocation.
Key scientific discoveries about the Earth's climate system and its effects on its citizens were spurred by measurements from Ball instruments and spacecraft.
- Ball Aerospace partnered with NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to develop sustainable land imaging technologies that enable the Landsat program to build on its historic data archive and provide critical information about global water resources.
- The company signed a contract with MethaneSAT LLC to develop an advanced remote sensing instrument that will detect methane emissions across the globe from space.
- The American Meteorological Society recognized Ball Aerospace in 2019 for outstanding services by a corporation, citing the company’s work designing and building proven advanced remote-sensing instruments and spacecraft enabling timely, accurate weather predictions and environmental monitoring to ensure a Weather Ready Nation.
- Ball Aerospace is serving as principal investigator and mission partner on NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM), which is proving the capabilities of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel on orbit. The new propellant is less harmful to the environment, increases fuel efficiency, and diminishes operational hazards for aerospace workers. Ball built the small spacecraft bus, integrated and tested the payloads and propulsion system, and provided launch and flight support.
- The Ball Aerospace Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) launched in 2020 and is monitoring pollution for the Korean peninsula and Asia-Pacific region. NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) mission, a sister instrument to GEMS also built by Ball Aerospace, is scheduled to launch in 2022. Together, the instruments will revolutionize the way scientists observe air quality.
- Ball Aerospace designed and built the Operational Land Imager for the Landsat-8 and upcoming Landsat-9 missions managed by NASA and operated by USGS. Data from Landsat satellites help decision makers better understand Earth’s ecosystem, make routine drought assessments and fire prevention plans, respond to natural disasters and more.
- Ball Aerospace was selected by NOAA for four, six-month operational weather studies that will inform mission, spacecraft and instrument concepts for future operational weather architectures and Earth observation capabilities. Ball developed a series of innovative technology and mission solutions to meet NOAA's most critical space-based observational needs in an affordable and sustainable way, and these studies are a continuation of this effort.
Tracking Emissions from Space
Beyond efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our value chain, we can also use our advanced capabilities and technologies to monitor these emissions from space.
In 2019, Ball Aerospace signed a contract with MethaneSAT LLC, a subsidiary of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), to develop an advanced remote sensing instrument that will detect regional and point source methane emissions across the globe from space. The MethaneSAT mission will help companies and countries develop strategies to reduce those emissions while supporting EDF’s goal of achieving a 45% reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 2025.
Existing satellites can either map large-scale methane emissions across broad geographic areas or make more precise measurements at specific locations. MethaneSAT will serve both functions — providing regional-scale high precision measurements globally. Ball Aerospace spectrometers at the heart of the mission will measure methane concentration in a column of air observed by the MethaneSAT satellite. Once positioned over a target area, the spectrometers can detect methane concentrations as low as two parts per billion, the equivalent to sensing a couple of colored dye drops in a 10,000-gallon swimming pool.
Ball Aerospace has extensive experience providing high-accuracy environmental data for applications, including atmospheric science, operational weather, quantitative land use and air quality assessments. The MethaneSAT mission builds on our long history of developing space-based instruments and missions to support critical Earth science, while underscoring our commitment to sustainability. The mission is expected to launch in 2022.
Monitoring Water from Space
Every day for more than 45 years, Landsat satellites operated by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) have provided essential measurements to inform decisions about natural resource management. Ball Aerospace partners with NASA and USGS to develop imaging technologies that enable the Landsat program to build on its historic data archive and provide critical information about global water resources.
From helping farmers eliminate wasteful overwatering of crops to reducing water pollution related to land use, Landsat’s space-based insights impact millions of people worldwide by supporting informed decision-making on how limited water resources are allocated, such as managing water usage in arid regions, settling water rights disputes and anticipating and responding to water shortages.
Ball Aerospace designed and built the Operational Land Imager (OLI) for Landsat 8. The most advanced Landsat imager launched to date, OLI has demonstrated excellent performance since entering orbit in 2013, enabling new coastal and inland water science. In 2019, Ball delivered a second OLI instrument for the Landsat 9 mission, which is expected to launch in 2021.
As part of NASA’s Sustainable Land Imaging program, Ball Aerospace is demonstrating innovative new land imaging instruments that will improve Landsat measurements while significantly reducing size and cost. These instruments will lower costs associated with building and launching Landsat satellites, ultimately ensuring high-quality Landsat data will remain available to the public for decades to come.