NASA Aircraft Take to Skies over Houston for Air Pollution Study

Image Credit: NASA
Image Credit: NASA

A multi-year NASA science mission soon will be airborne over Houston to help scientists measure and forecast air quality from space.

NASA is inviting media to see two NASA aircraft equipped with scientific instruments at Ellington Field in Houston on Tuesday, Sept. 3 as the planes are being readied for a month-long series of flights over the metropolitan area beginning Wednesday, Sept. 4. The date for this media opportunity is subject to change depending on the schedule of research flights.

To arrange for credentials, contact William Jeffs at 281-483-5111 or Non-U.S. media planning to attend must respond by Tuesday, Aug. 20. U.S. reporters must respond by Wednesday, Aug. 28.

The P-38 turboprop and two-engine B200 King Air plane are part of a five-year study NASA calls DISCOVER-AQ, which is short for Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality.

Researchers are working to improve the ability of satellites to consistently observe air quality in the lowest part of the atmosphere. If scientists can better observe pollution from space, they may be able to make better air quality forecasts and more accurately determine where pollution is coming from and why emissions vary.

Flights will be at altitudes as low as 1,000 feet. Sampling will focus on the Houston metropolitan area ranging from Conroe in the north to Galveston in the south.

DISCOVER-AQ is an Earth Venture mission, part of the Earth System Science Pathfinder program managed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., for the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information on DISCOVER-AQ, visit: and

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