A satellite with the power to track methane pollution from oil and gas industry operations across wide areas will launch this afternoon from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The MethaneSAT project, headed by the Environmental Defense Fund in collaboration with  global partners from numerous sectors, will be capable of monitoring 80% of global methane gas production with sufficient precision to identify individual pollution sources — and unlike other extant methane-tracking satellites, the data will be made publicly available.

Methane traps more than 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20-year period and slashing methane pollution is widely regarded as the most cost-effective way to cut climate pollution in the short term. “Some call it the low-hanging fruit — I like to call it fruit lying on the ground. We can really reduce those emissions, and we can do it rapidly and see the benefits,” EDF’s Steven Hamburg told reporters Friday.

“There’s going to be a lot of public data on methane emissions, so companies will have very strong incentives to figure out the problem and fix it,” Ben Cahill, a climate expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Washington Post. “Soon, there will be no place to hide.” (Washington Post $, New York Times $, E&E $, Canary Media)