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Ball To Help Build Hosted Environmental Sensor

WASHINGTON —  Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. said Nov. 19 that it has been selected by NASA to help build an ultraviolet-visible spectrometer that will monitor major air pollutants across North America from geostationary orbit.

NASA plans to fly the instrument as a hosted payload aboard a commercial communications satellite when the instrument is completed in September 2017. Mission costs will be capped at $90 million, not including integration with the selected satellite platform and NASA’s share of launch costs.

NASA selected the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) mission proposal Nov. 8 from among 14 competing proposals. Led by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., TEMPO is NASA’s first award under its Earth Venture Instrument program of small, targeted science investigations designed to complement NASA’s larger research missions.

From its perch in geostationary orbit, the TEMPO instrument will continuously measure ozone, aerosols and other trace gases over greater North America. The instrument’s geostationary position will allow delivery of regional, hourly readouts of atmosphere data during daylight hours. NASA expects the data to advance air quality research on how air pollution affects climate change and air quality on a continental scale.

Cary Ludtke, vice president and general manager for Ball’s Civil and Operational Space business unit, said in a statement that the TEMPO spectrometer “will be the company’s first geostationary instrument for NASA.”

“TEMPO takes advantage of our expertise and technology developed for previous ultra-violet visible instruments that have already flown or are currently in orbit,” he said, including the Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite flying on Suomi NPP and the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment.

In addition to Ball, the TEMPO team includes NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several U.S. universities and research organizations.

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