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The 117-foot-long NASA P-3B research aircraft is equipped with instruments studying air pollution as part of a mission to help scientists better understand how to measure and forecast air quality from space.
The flights are part of
Researchers are working to improve the ability of satellites to consistently observe air quality in the lowest part of the atmosphere. If scientists can better observe pollution from space, they will be able to improve air quality forecasts and better, determine where pollution is coming from and why emissions vary. A fundamental challenge for space-based instruments monitoring air quality is to distinguish between pollution high in the atmosphere and pollution near the surface.
"DISCOVER-AQ is collecting data that will prepare us to make better observations from space, as well as determine the best mix of observations to have at the surface when we have new satellite instruments in geostationary orbit," said NASA Langley's
Because many countries, including the U.S., have large gaps in ground-based networks of air pollution monitors, experts hope satellites can provide a more complete geographic perspective on the distribution of pollutants.
A fleet of
"It's been useful in giving us a broader view of air pollution than we've ever had before," said
The DISCOVER-AQ mission is a partnership with the
Academic partners include the
DISCOVER-AQ is an Earth Venture mission, part of the Earth System Science Pathfinder program managed at Langley for the
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