environment NASA Is Helping Us Learn More About Our Own Planet’s Pollution Problem The agency isn't only concerned about what's happening in outer space. NASA Is Helping Us Learn More About Our Own Planet’s Pollution Problem Alex Wong/Getty Images
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We’ve seen a lot of news stories lately about how NASA is ramping up for some ambitious space flights in the near future, including a forthcoming mission expected to result in the first moonwalk in more than 50 years.

But the space agency is also using its technology to address terrestrial concerns.

Following the smog

NASA has been working to gather data about emissions for decades, dating back to the 1990s when it would launch flights over areas around the world.

According to Troposphere Composition Program manager Barry Lefer, those were “the exploratory days” that ushered in the current period during which technology allows for the surveillance of community-specific pollution.

Lefer noted that “the transition to urban air quality is relatively new,” but such programs are already revealing some startling information about the impact that pollution is having on population centers.

Most recently, the agency sent up a craft that will closely monitor the chemicals and pollutants in the air over cities across North America. WIthin the next few months, it will be partnering with public health entities to determine exactly what the ramifications of all these trapped gases could be for humanity and the planet itself.

Increasing the TEMPO

The new NASA mission is called “Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution” (or TEMPO for short) and is designed to send back a lot of highly specialized data that will help experts determine the best course of action to reverse the environmental damage.

Here are some of the expected benefits of the program:

  • Detailed monitoring of nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, and other elements trapped in the atmosphere.
  • More accurate weather forecasts based on information that can predict future meteorological conditions.
  • Highly localized data collection to reveal how different neighborhoods within a city are impacted by pollution.
Chris Agee
Chris Agee April 10th, 2023
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