Satellite Host Named for NASA Air Pollution Sensor

Maxar will build the Intelsat 40e geostationary communications satellite and integrate NASA’s TEMPO payload with it. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

A NASA instrument that will measure air quality over North America in unprecedented detail during daylight hours now has a satellite host.

Maxar Technologies and Intelsat recently agreed to partner to host NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument onboard the Intelsat 40e mission. In 2019, NASA selected Maxar to host the TEMPO instrument utilizing the U.S. Air Force Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) contract vehicle.

Intelsat 40e is based on Maxar’s 1300-class satellite platform and will provide commercial satellite communications for Intelsat customers in North and Central America. The satellite is scheduled to launch into geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth’s equator in 2022.

TEMPO will make hourly measurements of atmospheric gases — including ozone, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde as well as aerosols — across North America and provide air quality products that will be made publicly available and help improve air quality forecasting.

“We are excited about this important step required to lay the operational framework for TEMPO’s critical air quality measurements. We look forward to working closely with both Maxar and Intelsat for the successful integration, launch and deployment of TEMPO,” said Stephen Hall, TEMPO project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The TEMPO instrument project is led by Principal Investigator Kelly Chance from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The instrument was developed by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, and is in storage awaiting shipment to Maxar’s satellite manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, California.

TEMPO will be part of a constellation of instruments measuring air quality over the Northern Hemisphere that will also include the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-4, currently in development, and South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer, scheduled to launch later this month.