NASA, Smithsonian scientists to launch satellite into space to monitor air pollution

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 2:32 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - What’s in the air we breathe? That’s a question NASA is now trying to better answer.

NASA says poor air quality is a threat to society. In a partnership with Smithsonian scientists and private companies, the agency will be launching an instrument into orbit that will measure what makes up the atmosphere every hour.

The Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, or “TEMPO,” instrument will be attached to a satellite that is set to launch in April and join a fleet of 25 other NASA missions.

NASA says current satellites monitoring the atmosphere can only measure North America sporadically. TEMPO’s orbit will keep it above the continent permanently, which is known as geostationary orbit. Many satelites circle the earth.

NASA said gencies can use that data to plan on tackling pollution after it is collected.

“The objective of NASA science missions is always driven by the science, the scientific understanding, making the data freely and openly available and relevant to agencies that have operational missions, but principally, NASA’s role here is to do the science, find the data and enable those agencies,” NASA Earth Science Director Dr. Karen St. Germain said.

NASA said the TEMPO satellite will be one of four they launch this year in 2023.