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NASA is launching a new air quality sensor in 2022

Posted at 8:04 PM, Feb 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-15 18:17:16-05

A new air quality measurement tool called "TEMPO" will be launched into orbit sometime in 2022.

"TEMPO," which stands for Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, will provide hourly measurements of gases in the atmosphere across North America, which includes ozone and aerosols.

It's a comprehensive and detailed picture of our air quality and a major step up compared to how air quality forecasts were handled decades ago, according to Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Meteorologist Dr. Matt Pace.

"Air quality is really a new science. Here at ADEQ we've only been forecasting air quality since the 90s," Dr. Pace said.

He says that current satellite data from GOES-16 has already been a significant help with Arizona's air quality forecast, especially with pollutants that are common in the Valley, like dust and smoke.

The new data will also have a higher resolution than what's available, showing which areas have higher pollution levels.

"We're going to be able to see so much more and make an even better forecast that we have right now," Pace stated.

The forecasts will be better, and perhaps longer, going past the current five day forecast that ADEQ sends out.

Another perk of the "TEMPO" tool: information will be made available publicly.