NASA's new instrument tracks North American air pollutants to neighborhood level

NASA has recently released test scans from a new instrument called TEMPO, which is capable of measuring pollution levels in North America with unprecedented precision. This Earth-orbiting instrument takes hourly scans and can track air pollutant levels down to the neighborhood level. The scans were taken during a trial period from July 31 to August 2, and TEMPO is expected to reach full operation in October.

TEMPO, which stands for Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, is the first instrument of its kind. It was launched in April on a SpaceX rocket and now orbits the Earth. The instrument measures levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and other gases. The data collected by TEMPO will be instrumental in improving research on rush-hour traffic pollution.

According to Kelly Chance, a senior physicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and TEMPO principal investigator, there are already almost 50 science studies being planned that are based around this new way of collecting data. The initial data from TEMPO has shown promising results, and researchers are excited to begin conducting further studies once the instrument is fully commissioned.

The release of TEMPO comes at a time when concerns about air pollution and its impact on the environment and public health are growing. With the climate crisis intensifying and the summer of 2023 being the hottest on record, the need for accurate and detailed information about pollution levels has become even more critical.

By providing precise measurements of air pollution across North America, TEMPO will enable researchers to better understand the sources and impacts of pollution. This information will be invaluable in developing strategies to mitigate pollution and improve air quality.

Overall, the release of TEMPO marks a significant milestone in the field of pollution monitoring. Its ability to track pollutant levels in real-time and at a neighborhood level will greatly enhance scientific research and contribute to efforts to combat air pollution and its associated risks.


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