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NASA’s High-Resolution Air Quality Control Instrument Launches

“A NASA instrument to provide unprecedented resolution of monitoring major air pollutants – down to four square miles – lifted off on its way to geostationary orbit at 12:30 a.m. EDT Friday. The Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument will improve life on Earth by revolutionizing the way scientists observe air quality from space. “The TEMPO mission is about more than just studying pollution – it’s about improving life on Earth for all. By monitoring the effects of everything from rush-hour traffic to pollution from forest fires and volcanoes, NASA data will help improve air quality across North America and protect our planet,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson…TEMPO commissioning activities will begin in late May or early June. From a fixed geostationary orbit above the equator, TEMPO will be the first space-based instrument to measure air quality over North America hourly during the daytime and at spatial regions of several square miles – far better than existing limits of about 100 square miles in the U.S. TEMPO data will play an important role in the scientific analysis of pollution, including studies of rush hour pollution, the potential for improved air quality alerts, the effects of lightning on ozone, the movement of pollution from forest fires and volcanoes, and even the effects of fertilizer application.

NASA makes data from instruments like TEMPO easily accessible to everyone,” said Karen St. Germain, division director for NASA’s Earth Sciences Division. “Which means that everyone from community and industry leaders to asthma sufferers are going to be able to access air quality information at a higher level of detail – in both time and location – than they’ve ever been able to before. And that also provides the information needed to start addressing one of the most pressing human health challenges.” TEMPO’s observations will dramatically improve the scientific data record on air pollution – including ozone, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde – not only over the continental United States, but also Canada, Mexico, Cuba, the Bahamas, and part of the island of Hispaniola.

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