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Isro orbiter to scan India's air for pollutants

AHMEDABAD: The Space Applications Centre (SAC) of Isro and Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) of University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies are collaborating on developing the `Next Generation Earth Monitoring and Observation and Aerosol Monitoring' (NEMO-AM) satellite. This is among Isro's most important high-performance nano-satellite missions for the country.

The nano-satellite will monitor suspended particles and aerosols that have made the air of major Indian cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Amritsar and Allahabad among the most polluted in the world.

The tiny particles and aerosols in the exhaust of vehicles, emissions from industrial chimneys and even dust particles from construction work fill the air we breathe. These aerosols and particulate matter of size 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) enter our lungs and restrict the free flow of air.

SAC is providing the necessary software for instruments that are to be made in Canada. The nano-satellite, which will be of 2x2x1 feet dimension and weigh 15 kg, will be launched 500 km above the earth.

SAC director Tapan Misra said the NEMO mission is designed to cover, each day, up to 50,000 sq km area of the country's 32.87 lakh sq km.

"The NEMO-AM will be integrated in July-August next year at SAC in the presence of a team from Canada SFL. The satellite will be tested and launched in the subsequent month,"said Misra.

The NEMO-AM satellite with its powerful imaging sensor analyses the sunlight reflected from the earth's surface. This light, which passes through the earth's atmosphere before reaching NEMO, will be analyzed by the satellite from different angles to determine the nature of suspended particles and aerosol concentration in the ambient air of India cities.

"The data will be handy for estimating emissions from vehicles, tracking pollutant plumes, and supporting activities to forecast air quality in cities and towns. New policies can be framed around this data,"said a senior Isro official.

Even cities that do not have specialized instruments installed in their streets to measure suspended particles, can get an idea of the quality of ambient air with a fair degree of accuracy. NEMO's data can be of great help in decision-making and environmental man-management activities of both the public and private sectors in a city or town or industrial area.

Courtesy: - The Times of India

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