The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is working with NASA and Ball Aerospace to build the first space-based continuous air pollution monitoring instrument for North America. The Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) project builds off of more than 30 years of Smithsonian experience monitoring and measuring the atmosphere.
Since 1985, SAO has collaborated with international partners to successfully launch six pollution monitoring satellites in what’s called “low-Earth” orbit. These satellites map the earth every 1-6 days. TEMPO will expand these capabilities by measuring air pollution in North America every daylight hour and at high spatial resolution. This will increase our ability to measure atmospheric pollution by an entire order of magnitude.
Through TEMPO, scientists will be able to track the movement and transformation of air pollution and help with forecasting air quality. Over time, TEMPO will produce a baseline of information about how our climate is changing and trends in air pollution.