DISCOVER-AQ, a NASA Earth Venture program funded mission, stands for Deriving Information on Surface
Conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality.
In recent years, progress in reaching air quality goals has begun to plateau for many locations.
Furthermore, near-surface pollution is one of the most challenging problems for Earth observations
from space. However, with an improved ability to monitor pollution from satellites from DISCOVER-AQ,
scientists could make better air quality forecasts, more accurately determine the sources of
pollutants in the air and more closely determine the fluctuations in emissions levels.
In short, the more accurate data scientists have at hand, the better society is able to
deal effectively with lingering pollution problems.
The campaign employed NASA aircraft to make a series of flights, with scientific instruments
on board to measure gaseous and particulate pollution, beginning in 2011.
The series of flights made by NASA Langley's King Air and NASA's P-3B
commenced over Baltimore-Washington, D.C. in 2011. Other flights included Houston
(2013); San Joaquin Valley, CA (2013); and Denver (2014). Measurements were
taken in concert with ground observations in order to shed light on how satellites could be used
to make similar, consistent measurements over time, with the ultimate goal of putting better data
in the hands of policymakers and elected officials.
DISCOVER-AQ was a collaboration among scientists at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.;
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; NASA’s Ames Research Center, outside San Francisco; and multiple universities