Air pollution sensor integrated and tested with commercial satellite center

The TEMPO air pollution sensor is housed on Intelsat 40e, seen here at the Maxar Technologies facility in Palo Alto, California, where it was manufactured. The instrument and the entire spacecraft recently underwent pre-launch testing at the facility. Credit: Maxar

Air pollution is an existential threat to millions of Americans with asthma and other health problems. In response to this threat, NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory are innovating to improve observations of air quality in North America.

Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) is a UV-visible spectrometer to be hosted on Intelsat 40e, a commercial satellite built by Maxar Technologies. TEMPO’s sensors will measure sunlight reflected and scattered by Earth’s surface and atmosphere, allowing it to “see” a range of atmospheric pollutants, including ozone and nitrogen dioxide.

On February 27, 2023, the instrument and the entire spacecraft successfully passed pre-launch tests at Maxar’s facility in Palo Alto, California. TEMPO underwent thermal vacuum, dynamic, and end-to-end and capability testing to ensure it would withstand launch conditions and the harsh environment of space. The tests have also ensured that command, telemetry and mission data flow accurately.

Scheduled to launch in April 2023 from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, TEMPO will be the first instrument to observe hourly daytime air pollution in North America. It will take measurements in an area stretching from Puerto Rico to northern Canada and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, which will include the entire continental America.

TEMPO data will play an important role in scientific studies of phenomena such as peak-hour pollution and the movement of emissions from forest fires and volcanoes. Scientists could eventually apply TEMPO observations to air quality alerts for people in pollution hot spots and those living with health problems.

TEMPO will also be part of a virtual constellation of air pollution observers that will give global scientists a big picture of air quality around the Northern Hemisphere.

Provided by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Reference: Air pollution sensor integrated and tested with commercial satellite host (2023, March 2) Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-air-pollution-sensor-commercial- satellite.html

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