NASA To Use Aircraft To Help Improve Air Quality Monitoring | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

NASA To Use Aircraft To Help Improve Air Quality Monitoring

Play associated audio
NASA's launching a new mission this summer designed to better understand air pollution.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
NASA's launching a new mission this summer designed to better understand air pollution.

Crawford says traditionally most air quality measurements have been taken from the ground and only in a few locations.

"With that kind of information, it's easy to tell when we have poor conditions, but it's difficult to paint a complete picture of how those conditions play out across the area," he says.

NASA will fly two aircraft over the ground locations that are generally used to monitor air quality, set up by the Maryland Department of the Environment. One will fly at a lower altitude to sample the air around it, and the other will fly at a higher altitude to look at pollution below it. Crawford says flights at different altitudes will offer information about the pollution at the surface, "where it influences people," and the pollution that's higher in the atmosphere, which is currently difficult for satellites to monitor.

"Trying to distinguish between the two is a particular difficulty," he says.

By integrating satellites, Crawford says scientists could forecast poor air quality conditions. Satellite technology could also help scientists analyze where pollution comes from and then figure out how to mitigate it.

Crawford says this is the first deployment over an urban area, but NASA scientists have plans to do three more deployments over the next four years. Each site has pollution for distinct reasons.

The aircraft in the Baltimore-Washington experiment will only fly during the day. Test flights begin next week, but the entire project will last through the end of July.

NPR

'Night At The Fiestas' Spins Stories Of Faith And Family

Kirstin Valdez Quade's debut book of short fiction is inspired by her family and its long history in the "romanticized" region of northern New Mexico.
NPR

Not Just Sugary-Sweet, Hard Cider Makes A Comeback

Cider is the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage in the United States. Much of that growth is driven by big industrial producers, but smaller cider-makers are looking for a larger bite of the apple.
NPR

Nigerian President Faces Tough Reelection Campaign

Nigerians head to the polls Saturday to vote for their new president. The incumbent Goodluck Jonathan faces former military leader, Muhammadu Buhari, who says he's tough on security and corruption.
NPR

App That Aims To Make Books 'Squeaky Clean' Draws Ire From Edited Writers

Clean Reader — an app designed to find, block and replace profanity in books — has drawn considerable criticism from authors. This week, makers of the app announced they would no longer sell e-books.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.