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NASA funds SAO instrument to track North American air pollution
Date:11/9/2012

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory has been awarded a NASA project to build the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument. TEMPO will be the first space-based instrument to monitor major air pollutants across the North American continent hourly during daytime. The instrument, to be completed in 2017 at a cost of $90 million, will share a ride on a commercial satellite to a geostationary orbit about 22,000 miles above Earth's equator.

TEMPO will measure North American air pollution, from Mexico City to the Canadian tar/oil sands, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, hourly and at high spatial resolution. This will enable scientists to monitor daily variations in pollution amounts, and follow pollution transport. The instrument will resolve pollution levels to a region of several square miles - far better than existing limits of about 100 square miles.

"TEMPO will provide an order of magnitude improvement over our current capabilities," said Smithsonian principal investigator Kelly Chance.

Together, this temporal and spatial resolution will enable researchers to improve emission inventories, monitor population exposure, and evaluate effective emission-control strategies. It also will provide near-real-time air quality products that will be made publicly available, and will help reduce uncertainty in air quality predictions by 50 percent.

TEMPO will measure ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, glyoxal, water vapor, aerosols, cloud parameters, and harmful ultraviolet radiation. These are major elements in the lower atmospheric ozone chemistry cycle. TEMPO will quantify and track the evolution of aerosol loading.

TEMPO was chosen from 14 proposals submitted to NASA's Earth Venture Instrument program. Earth Venture missions, part of the Earth System Science Pathfinder program, are small, targeted science investigations that complement NASA's larger research mission.


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Contact: Christine Pulliam
cpulliam@cfa.harvard.edu
617-495-7463
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Source:Eurekalert

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