Two affiliates of Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency (NSSA) shined in the Microsoft Energy Core AI Academy Hackathon, Hydrocarbon Release and Its Environmental Impact.

During the hackathon, in which world companies, research centers, space agencies and higher education institutions from various countries participated, NSSA’s affiliates, Aysha Al-Haram and Ahmed Bushlaibi, along with their team members from the Khalifa University, clinched the third position during the global competition for finding new ways to harness machine learning techniques to identify methane emissions and leaks from satellite remote sensing data.

The team built an application to find the sources of a methane leak, classify each detected reading as either a source or a consequence of another source, and to separate these detections from others in order to make locating and fixing the leak much easier and cheaper. The team used the data from the Sentinel 5P, a satellite measuring the atmosphere above the Permian basin and Saudi Arabia, over a 10-day period, the Khalifa University said.

Their method involved satellite data pre-processing to eliminate all data points that did not meet the requirements, tracking the source of the leakage by tracing points and clusters, and then using visualization techniques to indicate the source of the methane leak. They built a timeline to identify each cluster of data points that indicated methane and link these clusters with their corresponding possible sources from past data. Using this approach, they could pinpoint the correct methane source using multiple parameters, like the concentration, distance and density of the gas, the University added.

On the occasion, Aysha Al-Haram and Ahmed Bushlaibi expressed their pride in achieving the third place in the global event which witnessed fierce competition among participants from specialized companies, noting that the exploit was the fruitful outcome of the constant support of the NSSA for all its affiliates.

Shell and Repsol, two companies with significant research and development departments, won the first and second places.