Ball Aerospace pegs air pollution progress on next-gen satellites

An article by the firm, published on World Economic Forum, highlights the role of high-tech data gathering in raising air quality across the globe. 

Pointing to the Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) the first next-generation satellite designed to measure air pollution in daylight hours with a 5km resolution, which was developed for South Korea, the paper states more innovations such as this will be needed in order to mitigate the crisis.

space shuttle view outside the Earth

A sister instrument, built for NASA, will launch soon. Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring Pollution (TEMPO) will offer similar insight to the South Asian satellite, but with the focus on North America and improved resolution. Meanwhile, Europe is in the process of finalising plans for its own, with the Sentinel-4 mission set to begin delivering comparable coverage from 2024. 

Unsurprisingly, things look a little different away from the world’s wealthiest regions. In the Global South, for example, there are currently no projects underway designed to provide the same service, or a version of it. The Middle East is also lacking this technology at the time of writing, exemplifying why air pollution investment still lags far behind the actual scale of the problem.

Nevertheless, according to Ball Aerospace: ‘As we look ahead, a global constellation of geostationary orbit air quality satellites that report, on an hourly basis, the main air pollutants affecting human health will give us pertinent information for actions. We need a future where people can get instantaneous air quality data and air quality forecasts, in exactly the same way we get weather and ultraviolet information today. Clean air is a basic human right and actionable data will drive change and promote environmental justice.’ 

You can read the full article hereAir Quality News recently published an in-depth feature looking at air pollution inequalities, focusing how minority ethnic and disadvantaged communities in the UK are bearing the brunt of ambient pollution, despite contributing the least to concentrations of pollutants overall. 

Image: NASA


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