SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA's TEMPO launches from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on April 7, 2023.
Paul Hennessy—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
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Air pollutants travel fast, and daily observations make it hard to pinpoint the source. In August, the NASA TEMPO (Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring Pollution)—which hovers on a satellite 22,000 miles above North America—began monitoring nitrogen dioxide and air quality, sending hourly updates that allow scientists to better understand the sources of pollution, which is increasingly urgent given global declines in air quality and bouts of wildfire smoke. This high-altitude perch allows an unprecedented macro analysis, and high-resolution tracking enables scientists to zoom in on a town or city level.

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