The fine focus of the instrument (image: a Ball Aerospace technician inspects TEMPO) will identify which areas have higher or lower levels of pollution, and spot the specific sources of different air pollutants such as factories or farms. Photo Credit: Ball Aerospace

EnvironmentTechnology North America 10. May 2023

Revolutionary Tool Measures Air Pollution High in the Sky

A revolutionary new tool will soon allow for a detailed analysis of air pollution from more than 22,000 miles above the ground.

“TEMPO is a satellite mission that consists of a spectrometer, using technology that we’ve been developing for more than 30 years, to use the spectrum of light to measure air pollution,” says Kelly Chance, the project’s principal investigator with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO).

The TEMPO mission was realized thanks to a collaboration between NASA and the SAO. TEMPO will ultimately be able to track the ways in which air pollution is created, how it evolves, and how it is dispersed. Though satellites that measure air pollution already exist, they cannot see how the pollution changes throughout the day. TEMPO is different in that it will allow scientists to measure how the atmosphere changes both in real-time and over more extended periods.


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