IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


20th December, 2023 Science and Technology


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  • NASA's new satellite to hourly measure air pollution hourly has shown significant progress and now the space agency officials are already thinking about ways to extend its life.
  • TEMPO is NASA’s first Earth-observation satellite in geostationary orbit and has developed further from previous polar-orbiting satellites provided daily observations to provide 10 to 12 daily scans.


Mission and Objectives

  • Purpose: TEMPO is a space-based ultraviolet–visible spectrometer designed to monitor air pollution across greater North America.
  • Measurements: It provides high-resolution, hourly data on atmospheric pollutants like ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde.

Instrumentation and Operation

  • Spectrometer Design: TEMPO's ultraviolet–visible spectrometer measures reflected sunlight from the Earth's atmosphere and dissects it into 2,000 component wavelengths.
  • Geostationary Host: Hosted as a payload on a commercial geostationary communication satellite, TEMPO maintains a constant view of North America.
  • Coverage Area: Scans the region from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Alberta oil sands to Mexico City.

Constellation and Collaborations

  • Geostationary Constellation: TEMPO contributes to a constellation of pollution-monitoring assets, including ESA's planned Sentinel-4 and South Korea's Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS).
  • Partnerships: Developed as a collaboration between NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Integration and Launch

  • Host Satellite: TEMPO resides on the Intelsat 40e satellite, built by Maxar Technologies, responsible for payload integration.
  • Launch Date: It was sent aloft in April and built by Ball Aerospace.


  • Earth Venture-Instrument Program: TEMPO is NASA's inaugural Earth Venture-Instrument (EVI) mission.
  • EVI's Role: Part of NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) program office, supporting innovative, low-cost missions driven by scientific research and applications.
  • Competitive Selection: Selected through competitive solicitations, EVI missions address various areas of Earth science.

Other Earth Venture Missions

  • Nature of Missions: EVI missions are characterized as small-sized, competitively selected orbital missions or instrument missions of opportunity.
  • Examples: Include missions like NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT), ICESat-2, and others like Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow On (GRACE-FO), Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), and Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), among others.

Future Prospects

  • Extended Lifespan Goals: While initially planned for a 20-month operation, NASA and Intelsat are aiming for an extended functionality of 10-15 years for TEMPO.
  • Precursor for Future Missions: TEMPO's success sets the stage for NOAA's enhanced Atmospheric Composition Instrument, slated for a mid-2030s launch.


TEMPO's role as part of the EVI program showcases NASA's commitment to innovative, cost-effective missions focusing on Earth science research and applications, particularly in monitoring and understanding air pollution over North America.


Q. Which among the following statements regarding the TEMPO satellite is correct?

A) TEMPO is a polar-orbiting satellite designed for high-resolution mapping of Mars' atmosphere.

B) It measures air pollution over North America on a daily basis using infrared imaging technology.

C) TEMPO is a geostationary Earth-observation satellite providing hourly data on atmospheric pollutants like ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde.

D) It collaborates with the European Space Agency's Sentinel-5P for monitoring oceanographic parameters.

Correct Answer: C)