As the climate crisis fuels a boiling summer — July was the hottest month on record — the dangers of air pollution are at the front of many minds.
NASA released the first images of a new tool launched with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which can track pollution levels in North America.
Thanks to the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution instrument, called TEMPO, NASA can now track air pollution across North America with enough detail to pinpoint pollutant levels in exact neighborhoods, according to a NASA press release.
NASA has released preliminary scans from the instrument taken during a trial from July 31 to August 2. The instrument will be fully operational in October.
The instrument is the first of its kind, according to NASA officials.
First launched on a SpaceX Rocket , TEMPO orbits Earth now and measures levels of ozone and nitrogen dioxide in North America, says Kelly Chance, a principal investigator at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
“There are already almost 50 science studies being planned that are based around this new way to collect data,” Chance said in the press release.
TEMPO will be especially helpful for improving studies on rush-hour traffic pollution, according to researchers.
“In a press release, Kevin Daugherty said that he was excited by the first data collected from the TEMPO Instrument and the fact that its performance has been as impressive as expected. “We look forward to completing commissioning of the instrument and then starting science research.”