NASA launched air pollution monitoring device TEMPO into orbit

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NASA has launched Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO), a device that will measure the levels of three harmful pollutants – nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde and ground-level ozone – across North America. TEMPO is carried aboard Maxar’s Intelsat-40e communications satellite and records data by measuring the light that gases and particles in the atmosphere reflect back into space. The satellite will operate in geostationary orbit, enabling measurements to be taken every hour. NASA anticipates the readings will help provide more accurate air quality forecasts, while the device is also expected to remove blind spots within air pollution monitoring.

NASA launched air pollution monitoring device TEMPO into orbit

The American space agency sent into orbit a powerful device for monitoring air pollution Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution or TEMPO. The tool will identify changes in air quality from area to area in North America.

TEMPO will measure three harmful pollutants: nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde and ground-level ozone. These are the key components of smog.

NASA knows that oil refineries or chemical plants are typically located in low-income areas, writes TEMPO Program Director John Haynes. He notes that property values ​​in such regions are lower due to poor air quality, but the researchers did not have ground-based measuring devices in each area to confirm this.

The agency expects that TEMPO will help get rid of blind spots. The instrument will measure the light that gases and particles in the atmosphere reflect back into space. Scientists will be able to distinguish different substances by unique wavelengths of light.

TEMPO is aboard Maxar’s Intelsat-40e communications satellite, which was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The satellite will operate in geostationary orbit, allowing the instrument to take measurements over North America every hour. Previously, similar instruments could perform such studies only once a day.

TEMPO is capable of monitoring pollution on an area of ​​10 square meters. km Based on the instrument’s data, US federal agencies will be able to issue more accurate air quality forecasts.

It will take several months for readings from TEMPO to become available on Earth — the instrument will be activated in late May or early June, after which it will undergo calibration.

The model of sending instruments as satellite payloads should make research cheaper, NASA is confident. The main function of Intelsat 40e is to provide Internet communication services to airplanes and cruise ships. NASA developed TEMPO jointly with South Korea and ESA.

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