New satellite instrument will monitor air pollution hourly

By on November 20, 2012

A new satellite instrument that will monitor air pollution by the hour is in development for NASA at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., according to a NASA news release.

The project, known as Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, was selected from 14 competing projects to serve as NASA’s first hourly air pollutant monitoring device.  It will monitor for pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, aerosols and formaldehyde.

The TEMPO instrument will ride aboard a commercial satellite which will park in one location on earth’s orbit and float above the U.S. It will be able to send readings multiple times per day as long as the U.S. faces the sun. Most earth observation satellites now can only send data once a day.

The TEMPO instrument will be part of a NASA program known as the Earth Venture Instrument program.  The project should be ready by 2017 with a maximum cost of $90 million.

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