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Intelsat to Operate Air Pollution Monitoring Space Instrument

Intelsat 40e (IS-40e) will house TEMPO. Credit: Intelsat

Ibadan, 31 March 2023. – Intelsat has completed testing of the operational and data collection system for the first space-based instrument to monitor major air pollutants across the North American continent every daylight hour at high resolution. The new UV-visible spectrometer, which Intelsat operates for NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, will launch on the Intelsat 40e (IS-40e) satellite tentatively next month.

The Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) mission aims to create a revolutionary new dataset of atmospheric chemistry measurements from space. As a result, TEMPO data will play an essential role in scientific studies of phenomena such as rush-hour pollution and the movement of emissions from forest fires and volcanoes. Scientists could eventually apply TEMPO observations to air quality alerts for people in pollution hot spots and those with health issues.

Speaking on the mission, Jean-Luc Froeliger said, “Working closely with our partners, we completed a rigorous schedule of tests to ensure that commanding, telemetry, and mission data flow accurately and at near real-time speed from the IS-40e satellite through the Intelsat ground-system to the Smithsonian and NASA scientists. Froeliger also added, “The Intelsat communications and ground-system is crucial to the success of the TEMPO project, and we’re ready for the start of TEMPO operations this summer.”

When TEMPO commences operations, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) scientists will send commands through the Intelsat custom-built software to the instrument and instruct it on where to scan and during what times. Furthermore, the mission will also form part of a virtual constellation of air pollution monitors that will give global scientists a big-picture view of air quality around the Northern Hemisphere.

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