NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and South Korea have teamed up as part of an international effort to improve air quality forecasting around the world.
The three space agencies have launched a new constellation of satellite-mounted instruments which are designed to monitor pollution from space.
The first of three instruments to have launched is South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS), a new pioneering space constellation which launched from French Guiana space station towards an orbit where it will make hourly daytime measurements of several pollutants over Asia.
NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO), is scheduled to join GEMS in 2022 to take measurements over North America.
Some of the specific issues TEMPO will help address include rush-hour pollution in urban and suburban areas, transport of pollution from biomass burning and ozone production, air pollution from oil and gas fields, ship pollution tracks and drilling platform plumes.
To complete the constellation the European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-4 satellite is expected to launch in 2023, it will make measurements over Europe and North Africa.
Once complete, these air quality satellites will measure pollutants include ozone, nitrogen dioxide and aerosols.
According to the scientists, these measurements will significantly improve air quality forecasting and will have implications for public health by improving national pollution inventories.
The scientists hope that this data will inform decisions made by policymakers to improve air quality.
Data products from all of the satellite instruments will be freely available to scientists who are working to better understand air quality, long-range transport of air pollutants, emission source distributions and chemical processes.
Barry Lefer, tropospheric composition program manager in the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate said: ‘The GEMS launch was a key step in building an integrated global observing system for air quality, which will give us an unprecedented view of air pollution around the world at higher temporal and spatial scales.’
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