23 Jan 2024



GHOST (GreenHouse Gas Observations of the Stratosphere and Troposphere) uses technology designed for astronomy to monitor climate change.

NASA's Global Hawk pilotless aircraft which looks line an airplane with no windows



GHOST (GreenHouse Gas Observations of the Stratosphere and Troposphere) is a great example of how technology developed for astronomy can be applied in different ways. In this case using techniques originally designed for deep space exploration researchers are employing this spectrometer to monitor greenhouse gases on Earth.

The GHOST instrument being tested in the lab at UK ATCGHOST is the outcome of a collaboration between UK ATC, the University of Edinburgh and Leicester University. This innovative instrument uses near-infrared astronomy methods, initially created to detect faint light signals from distant stars, to collect information on our own atmosphere.

GHOST was fitted onboard NASA's Global Hawk pilotless aircraft which can operate at an altitude of 20km, far higher than commercial aircraft.  By analysing sunlight reflected off the ocean it ​measured the emission and absorption of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, providing  invaluable data for climate modelling and international climate negotiations.

The UK ATC designed and built the complete GHOST instrument and worked with NASA to mount it into the Global Hawk aircraft in California. Leicester University provided support for testing the instrument, for the observations and analysis of the data received. The University of Edinburgh provided science support.​