NASA is launching a new air quality measurement tool aboard a Maxar 1300-class satellite to help improve air quality forecasting. Called “TEMPO,” which stands for Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, the new tool will provide hourly measurements of the levels of gases in the atmosphere over North America, including ozone, nitrogen dioxide and aerosols. TechCrunch reports: The TEMPO tool won’t launch until 2022, however, which is when the Maxar satellite, called Intelsat 40e, is set to be delivered to geostationary orbit. It’s not uncommon for NASA to host its scientific payloads on commercial communications satellites, providing an opportunity for NASA to effectively hitch a ride on a large geostationary satellite that’ll cover the territory it wants to cover, while offering significant cost savings versus putting up a dedicated spacecraft. Ball Aerospace developed the TEMPO instrument for NASA, and it’ll be transported to Maxar’s Palo Alto-based satellite manufacturing facility for incorporation into the Intelsat 40e vehicle ahead of its scheduled launch. The instrument will also be used alongside other tools, including one from the European Space Agency, and South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer, which will all combine to provide a more comprehensive and detailed picture of air quality across the northern hemisphere.
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