ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — NASA has a new tool out in space and it’s meant to monitor pollution levels — and a first image was released from above Pennsylvania and the Northeast.
The Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution satellite, or TEMO for short, sits 22,000 miles above Earth’s equator. It was launched April 9 and the first image was released Aug. 31.
“Neighborhoods and communities across the country will benefit from TEMPO’s game-changing data for decades to come,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
In Pennsylvania, it probably comes as no surprise that the nitrogen dioxide density that TEMPO monitors is heaviest in the bigger cities such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The band of dark stretching from Washington, through Philly, and to New York City in the photo is along Interstate 95.
How does TEMPO work? According to NASA: TEMPO measures sunlight reflected and scattered off Earth’s surface, clouds, and atmosphere. Gases in the atmosphere absorb the sunlight, and the resulting spectra are then used to determine the concentrations of several gases in the air, including nitrogen dioxide.
TEMPO is designed to make hourly daytime scans of the lower atmosphere over North America between (approximately) Mexico City and central Canada, NASA said.
“TEMPO is beginning to measure hourly daytime air pollution over greater North America,” said Kelly Chance, SAO senior physicist and TEMPO principal investigator. “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.”