Jun Wang, assistant director of the Iowa Technology Institute, was named the principal investigator for two NASA grants worth $1.56 million.
NASA’s TEMPO mission, set to launch this year, is intended to revolutionize air quality forecasting. TEMPO, which stands for Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring Pollution, is a space-based ultraviolet and visible spectrometer scheduled to be launched into space aboard a commercial satellite — after nearly ten years of planning — before the year is over.
Mr. Wang and other University of Iowa researchers will use data collected from TEMPO to improve algorithms for measuring aerosol optical centroid height (AOCH) and aerosol optical depth (AOD). The information would benefit regional air quality monitoring and support public health management in smoky conditions, according to a press release.
“Previously, what we could get from space is the AOD that shows the total amount of aerosol mass from the surface all the way to the top of the atmosphere,” Wang said. “However, what matters most is the amount of aerosols in the air we breathe at the surface. AOCH data will be used to provide aerosol vertical distribution information, which will help us to map air quality.”
According to NASA, TEMPO will be the first space-based instrument to monitor major air pollutants across North America every daylight hour at high spectral resolution. TEMPO will monitor daily variations in ozone, nitrogen dioxide and other key elements of air pollution.
Of the $1.56 million tied to the grants, NASA is sponsoring $1.1 million by providing an interactive online mapping system to provide decision support for collaborators on air quality forecast and public health management. NASA is also supporting a $460,000 grant to develop an aerosol height product from the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) onboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DISCOVR) spacecraft, which is 1 million miles away from Earth.