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. 

NASA will partner with the U.S. Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo, California, to employ their Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) contract to issue a request for proposals from commercial companies to provide satellite integration, launch services and ground operations for TEMPO. Flying on this commercial spacecraft, TEMPO will make observations from a geostationary vantage point, 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

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 was developed under a firm, fixed-price contract.

TEMPO was delivered to NASA on December 7, 2018. We developed 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.

What the team is doing

Collaboration across the industry 

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. The team is preparing for TEMPO data through airborne flights using the Ball-built GeoTASO instrument, a UV-Visible sensor designed to deliver hyperspectral data similar to that expected from TEMPO. GeoTASO data helps the TEMPO team test and refine their trace gas and aerosol retrieval approaches.