Miniature Methane Sensor Sniffs Out Leaks

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A miniature gas sensor developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been licensed by SeekOps, Inc. in Pasadena, California.  This sensor, the Open Path Laser Spectrometer (OPLS), has previously been used to detect gas leaks with a high degree of accuracy using handheld devices or unmanned aerial systems (“UAS” or “drones”).

SeekOps, Inc.
SeekOps founders Brendan Smith (left) and Dr. Andrew Aubrey (right) with the SeekOps methane detection drone. The two founders recently left JPL to commercialize the technology. Image Credit: SeekOps, Inc.


NASA's OPLS sensor participated in a technology demonstration program that demonstrated its ability to detect methane from various sources from 2014 to 2016.  Its ability to detect methane in parts per billion by volume could help accurately pinpoint small methane leaks in natural gas pipelines and other infrastructure.


JPL’s Technology Transfer program ensures that the technologies developed at JPL are available to the public, maximizing the benefit to the nation.  In the case of OPLS, Andrew Aubrey of SeekOps Inc. explains, “This sensor and software have been optimized for mobile leak detection using a handheld or aerial configuration. SeekOps’ products and services decrease the time required for leak detection operations, saving time and product, while enhancing public safety.”


SeekOps, Inc. has licensed this sensor technology with plans to release a commercial handheld sensor and a leak detection service using the OPLS UAS configuration.


For additional information about technology transfer at JPL, please visit


SeekOps Press Release Posting: