Air pollution is a major contributor to millions of deaths each year, highlighting the importance of accurately identifying its sources and behaviors. To address this challenge, the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recently launched an ongoing project in the Philippines that utilizes aircraft data to study airborne particles and improve air quality prediction models.
The ASIA-AQ project is a collaboration between NASA and the Philippines, a country with one of the highest air pollution-related death rates in the world. The project involves NASA’s DC-8 aircraft flying for up to eight hours at a time, collecting airborne particles and aiding in the measurement of pollution from various sources. This data is essential for developing accurate air quality prediction models that can help protect public health and conserve ecosystems.
Through the use of aircraft data, scientists are able to improve their interpretation of satellite data, which provides more accurate information on air pollution levels in different regions. The DC-8 aircraft flies low over the ground to collect this data, often coming within just 15 meters of the surface. This allows researchers to gain a detailed understanding of pollution levels in specific areas, which can help inform public health warnings and conservation efforts.
In addition to its operations in the Philippines, NASA’s DC-8 will also conduct exploratory flights over South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand in the near future. These flights will provide valuable insights into air pollution levels in these regions and contribute to global efforts to combat this significant health threat.