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Advanced satellite instrument aims to track harmful pollutants in Earth’s atmosphere

(WJET/WFXP) – New satellite technology is being developed to track harmful pollutants in Earth’s atmosphere.

According to information provided by the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been working on a satellite mission that will follow the launch of their Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, or GOES-R series.

The GOES-R series of satellites is intended to improve the detection of weather phenomena significantly. These satellites provide faster, more accurate weather forecasts along with real-time mapping of lightning activity and the monitorization of space weather, among other things.

GOES-U, the next launch in the GOES-R series, is scheduled to happen no earlier than June 25, 2024, at 5:16 p.m. EDT.

Following the GOES-R launch series, the NOAA has plans for the Geostationary Extended Observations mission, or GeoXO launch, which won’t happen until the early 2030s but boasts new state-of-the-art technology.

One of the satellites to be launched during the GeoXO series is the Atmospheric Composition instrument, or ACX, which is able to provide critical information about Earth’s atmosphere.

The ACX, developed by BAE Systems, will observe air pollutants emitted by transportation, power generation, industry, oil and gas extraction, volcanoes and wildfires by the hour.

Hourly measurements of the atmosphere will significantly improve air quality monitoring, which in turn will alleviate health impacts from severe pollution and smoke events.

“To be able to have that kind of information about ‘invisible’ but unhealthy trace gasses in the atmosphere—such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and others—could revolutionize the way we communicate air quality impacts with the public,” said Joel Dreessen, deputy program manager for the Air Monitoring Program at the Maryland Department of the Environment.  

All of the satellites mentioned, both from the GOES-R series and future GeoXO series aim to work together and provide scientists with hyper-specific data about our atmosphere. This future data will provide a better understanding of the link between the Earth’s atmosphere, weather and climate.

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