Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. will be part of a team led by the Smithsonian astrophysical observatory that will build the first space-based instrument to monitor major air pollutants across the North American continent.
According to a company statement, the contract has a value of up to $90 million and does not include the launch vehicle and integration to the selected satellite platform.
The team will lead NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution mission to build a geostationary ultraviolet-visible (UV-VIS) spectrometer to continuously measure ozone, aerosols and other trace gases over greater North America.
“While Ball is at the forefront of low Earth orbit instrument development, the TEMPO spectrometer will be the company’s first geostationary instrument for NASA,” said Cary Ludtke, vice president and general manager for Ball’s civil and operational space business unit.
The instrument will be positioned to allow delivery of regional, hourly readouts of atmosphere data that will be used to study how air pollution affects climate change and air quality on a continental scale.
“TEMPO takes advantage of our expertise and technology developed for previous ultraviolet-visible instruments that have already flown or are currently on orbit,” Ludtke said.
“With TEMPO’s assistance you may eventually check your smart phone, for example, to obtain a read-out on your city’s current air quality information before you lace up your sneakers and head out for a run,” Ludtke added.
TEMPO is led by Smithsonian’s principal investigator, Kelly Chance. The team includes the Langley Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several U.S. universities and research organizations.