Meet the experts behind New Zealand’s first government-funded space missionRegister on Eventbrite
Fri 20 May 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Virtual + In person
University of Auckland, Engineering Faculty, 20 Symonds Street, Auckland Central, Auckland
Building 405, Level 4, Room 442
Meet the experts behind New Zealand’s first government-funded space launch.
Fossil fuel use and animal farming is driving global emissions of methane to its highest levels on record, putting humanity at risk as the world dangerously heats up. Cutting methane emissions is the single fastest and most impactful thing we can do to slow global warming – and it’s hoped MethaneSAT, an international climate change mission part-funded by the New Zealand Government, will help us to do that.
MethaneSAT is a satellite developed by the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund that will locate and measure methane emissions across Earth, producing quantitative data that will enable both companies and countries to identify, manage, and reduce their methane emissions, slowing the rate at which our planet is warming.
In 2019 the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) agreed to contribute $26 million to managing the mission from Aotearoa, including a new Mission Operations and Control Centre built and run by space company Rocket Lab before the University of Auckland takes over, and funding for a New Zealand-based research project that uses the satellite to detect agricultural methane.
This Techweek event brings together those key partners in New Zealand’s first government-funded space mission to discuss the science and technology behind MethaneSAT, how the partnership will accelerate our local space industry, and provide vital data to inform New Zealand’s own climate change policy.
Leigh Foster is a Senior Program Manager at Rocket Lab, where he is managing and developing mission operations capability for the MethaneSAT mission for Rocket Lab. Before joining Rocket Lab, Leigh's career included 20+ years of command, leadership, and management experience in aviation and space operations in the New Zealand Air Force, working extensively in military aviation and space environments. Leigh holds a Masters of Strategy (Space) from the University of Southern States, Alabama, USA; and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the University of Auckland.
As part of this mission, Rocket Lab will develop, manage, and operate the Mission Operations and Control Center (MOCC) for MethaneSAT in Auckland, New Zealand, as part of the New Zealand Government's commitment to the international program. Rocket Lab will deliver the IT and software infrastructure necessary to task the satellite on orbit including tracking, pointing, and positioning, and collision avoidance in space. Rocket Lab will also manage the collection and dissemination of climate change data generated by MethaneSAT to the program's international cohort of scientists and researchers.
Mission Operations Director at Te Pūnaha Ātea Space Institute
Chris leads spacecraft mission operations and ground segment developments. Prior to joining the Space Institute, Chris was the Chief Engineer at a leading European spacecraft manufacturer and operator. With over 30 years of experience, Chris has worked in many aspects of the space industry, including space operations, systems engineering and technical leadership for both large and small missions.
The Space Institute has installed a Mission Operations and Control Centre (MOCC) at the University of Auckland, and will provide the staff and infrastructure to operate the MethaneSAT mission. The MOCC will be an enduring piece of national infrastructure available to support Aotearoa New Zealand’s research organisations, helping to provide a world-class educational environment, and fostering the growth of the nation’s space sector.
Senior Director for Mission Systems MethaneSAT LLC
Peter leads the ground system development, mission operations and data production operations for MethaneSAT, a unique satellite which will locate and quantify methane emissions almost anywhere on the globe and generate a stream of actionable public data to help companies and regulators reduce emissions of the potent greenhouse gas faster. He brings over 30 years of senior leadership experience in space systems and flight operations for a range of space science missions. He has worked in industry, academia and at NASA. Prior to joining MethaneSAT, he oversaw development of the deep space navigation for the UAE’s Hope Mars mission, the initial development of a commercial cloud-based mission operations suite, and systems engineering of a university-led astrophysics cubesat project.
NZ's MethaneSAT Science Programme Lead
Dr Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher (NIWA) is Aotearoa-New Zealand's foremost atmospheric greenhouse gas modeller. She leads New Zealand's MethaneSAT Science Programme, which will develop the tools to map agricultural emissions from MethaneSAT data and a global agricultural sampling strategy. Her team includes some of New Zealand's strongest expertise in atmospheric science, methane emissions, and remote sensing at NIWA, University of Auckland, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, University of Waikato, and GNS Science.
Principal Policy Advisor, NZ Space Agency
Dimitri Geidelberg is Principal Policy Advisor in the New Zealand Space Agency, part of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE). He leads policy work to develop the New Zealand space sector, including through international R&D collaborations. Dimitri joined MBIE in 2016 to work on international science and innovation agreements and partnerships. His previous work was at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with a focus on New Zealand’s relationships with the countries of the Pacific region. He served at New Zealand’s diplomatic missions in Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Dimitri studied law and commerce at Victoria University of Wellington.