Satellite service provider Intelsat has concluded the assessment of an operational and data collection system for a novel space-based instrument.
Designed to observe significant air pollutants across North America, the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollutions UV-visible spectrometer will be operated by Intelsat for NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the company announced from its McLean, Virginia headquarters on Tuesday.
“Working closely with our partners, we successfully completed a rigorous schedule of tests to ensure that commanding, telemetry, and mission data are flowing accurately and at near real-time speed from the IS-40e satellite through the Intelsat ground system to the Smithsonian and NASA scientists,” said Jean-Luc Froeliger, senior vice president of space systems at Intelsat.
He stressed the importance of the organization’s communications and ground system in successfully conducting the TEMPO mission, which is planned to commence this summer.
Hosted on the Intelsat 40e satellite, TEMPO will conduct hourly, high-resolution scans of the North American continent during daylight times. The instrument is intended to create a new dataset of atmospheric chemistry measurements to support scientific studies focused on topics such as rush-hour pollution and the movement of emissions from forest fires and volcanoes.
Later, scientists may be able to utilize TEMPO data when creating air quality alerts for people in high-pollution areas and for those with health issues.
To control TEMPO’s scanning locations and times, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s team of scientists will issue commands using Intelsat-developed software tailored specifically for the instrument. Once raw data is recorded, it will be sent to Intelsat’s Riverside, California ground station and made accessible to SAO scientists for analysis.
TEMPO will be positioned at 91 West in geostationary orbit at approximately 22,000 miles above Earth’s equator, a location which will allow it to monitor daily fluctuations in ozone, nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants spanning the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Mexico City and the Yucatan Peninsula to the Canadian oil sands.
The instrument will also be included in a virtual constellation of air pollution monitors expected to provide global scientists with an all-encompassing view of air quality in the northern hemisphere.
Already in the constellation is South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer, which was launched on the Korean Aerospace Research Institute GEO-KOMPSAT-2B satellite. The final addition will be the European Space Agency Sentinel-4 satellite, which will take measurements of Europe and North Africa.