Last week, NASA released the first data maps from TEMPO. It is a new instrument that was sent to space earlier this year and is now transmitting information about major air pollutants across the North America continent successfully.
NASA says the data in the images was collected on Aug. 2 and found high levels of nitrogen dioxide over multiple cities in the United States including Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., according to CBS News.
Nitrogen dioxide gas is from pollution around cities and “major transportation arteries” in North America, NASA said.
TEMPO is the first ever spaced-based instrument that will measure air quality above North America from its orbit which is about 22,000 miles above the equator, according to NASA. It was built by Ball Aerospace and has been integrated with the Maxar-built Intelsat 40e.
“Neighborhoods and communities across the country will benefit from TEMPO’s game-changing data for decades to come,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in the news release. “This summer, millions of Americans felt firsthand the effect of smoke from forest fires on our health. NASA and the Biden-Harris Administration are committed to making it easier for everyday Americans and decisionmakers to access and use TEMPO data to monitor and improve the quality of the air we breathe, benefitting life here on Earth.”
TEMPO makes hourly daytime scenes of the lower part of North America’s atmosphere. NASA said it’s part of a mission between NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory which is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“TEMPO is beginning to measure hourly daytime air pollution over greater North America,” said Kelly Chance, SAO senior physicist and TEMPO principal investigator in the news release. “It measures ozone, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, aerosols, water vapor, and several trace gases. There are already almost 50 science studies being planned that are based around this new way to collect data.”
TEMPO is expected to begin full operations in October, according to NASA.
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