NASA scientists announced the agency’s Aura spacecraft
is providing the first daily, direct global measurements of
low-level ozone and many other pollutants affecting air

For the first time, Aura will help scientists monitor global
pollution production and transport with unprecedented spatial
resolution. Aura’s measurements offer new insights into how
climate changes influence the recovery of the Earth’s
protective stratospheric ozone layer.

“Data from NASA missions like Aura are a valuable national
asset,” said Aura Program Scientist Phil DeCola of NASA
Headquarters, Washington. “Clean air is a vital need, and air
quality is not merely a local issue. Pollutants do not
respect state or national boundaries. They can degrade air
quality far from their sources. Aura’s view from space
enables us to understand the long-range transport of
pollutants,” he added.

“Aura’s early results are nothing short of astounding;
measurements like these will help us better understand how
the ozone hole will react to future stratospheric cooling,
which is expected as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise,”
said Aura Project Scientist Mark Schoeberl of NASA’s Goddard
Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Aura’s instruments study tropospheric chemistry and will
provide daily, global monitoring of air pollution. The
complexity of pollution transport makes it difficult to
quantify how much industry and cars contribute to poor local
air quality. Also, the presence of stratospheric ozone
sandwiched between the satellite and the troposphere makes
seeing tropospheric ozone very difficult. Aura’s Tropospheric
Emission Spectrometer (TES) uses new technology to see
through the stratospheric ozone layer, to measure
tropospheric ozone.

Aura also provides new insights into the physical and
chemical processes that influence the health of the
stratospheric ozone layer and climate. It’s producing the
most complete suite of chemical measurements ever available
to understand the ozone layer and its recovery.

Data will include the first measurements of chemically
reactive hydrogen-containing species involved in ozone
destruction. The satellite also will provide the first
simultaneous measurements of key forms of chlorine and
bromine, also important for ozone destruction. Aura measures
the upper-tropospheric water-vapor abundance, a key component
in the radiation budget, needed to understand climate change.

Launched July 15, 2004, Aura is the third and final major
Earth Observing System satellite. Aura’s view of the
atmosphere and its chemistry will complement the global data
already being collected by NASA’s other Earth Observing
System satellites. These projects are Terra, primarily
focused on land, and Aqua, which comprehensively observes
Earth’s water cycle. Collectively, these satellites allow
scientists to study the complexities of how land, water and
our atmosphere work as a system.

Aura carries four instruments: Ozone Monitoring Instrument
(OMI), Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), High Resolution Dynamics
Limb Sounder (HIRDLS) and the Tropospheric Emission
Spectrometer (TES). OMI was built by the Netherlands and
Finland in collaboration with NASA. HIRDLS was built by the
United Kingdom and the United States.

The information was released during the American Geophysical
Union Fall meeting in San Francisco.

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