Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution

Watching North American air quality 

How does air pollution impact global weather and climate? Air pollution measurements from NASA’s TEMPO mission will give scientists the answer.  

The TEMPO instrument,  a geostationary ultraviolet/visible spectrometer, will provide daylight measurements of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde and aerosols across North America, from Mexico City to Canada and from coast to coast. The instrument will be the first space-based ultraviolet/visible light air quality spectrometer in geostationary orbit. 

Expected to launch in late 2017 with a two-year design life, TEMPO will share a ride on a commercial satellite as a hosted payload to an orbit about 22,000 miles above Earth’s equator.
TEMPO's accurate air pollution measurements would allow scientists to predict the impact wildfire smoke may have on air quality in nearby cities.

What we’re doing

Instrument provider

We’re developing the TEMPO instrument in tandem with the Geostationary Environmental Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) in order to capture design efficiencies between the two instruments, which share the same technology. GEMS is a joint development effort by Ball and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), South Korea, and is the Asian element of a global air quality monitoring constellation that includes TEMPO. 

TEMPO’s high resolution will allow pollution tracking at micro urban scales (an area approximating 1.25 x 2.8 miles) every hour and is expected to improve air quality prediction accuracy by 50 percent. The instrument is being developed under a firm, fixed-price contract. 

The TEMPO team includes the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; NASA’s Langley Research Center; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and several U.S. universities and research organizations.

Following successful Preliminary Design and confirmation reviews, the TEMPO instrument is well into fabrication.