State-of-the-art technology adapted from NASA’s Mars Rover program, originally designed to find methane on the Red Planet, is being applied back on earth by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to help guide PG&E crews using a tablet interface to identify possible gas leak locations, fast-tracking their ability to repair gas leaks.

The laser-based technology is lightweight and has superior sensitivity to methane, a major component of natural gas.

On September 29, 2014, a new law, SB 1371, required the California Public Utilities Commission to  open proceedings to adopt rules and procedures that minimize natural gas leaks from gas pipelines, with the goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane.

The hand-held device is the latest piece of advanced leak detection technology being embraced by the utility and is expected to be available for use in 2015.

Source: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Francisco, CA