TEMPO's scientific goals and objectives are strongly focused to provide data for answering key air quality and climate-related questions. The mission's science questions flow from the NASA 2010 Science Plan and the 2007 National Research Council Decadal Survey recommendations for Earth Science and Applications from Space. TEMPO addresses two of the NASA Science Focus Areas for Earth Science:

  1. TEMPO provides measurements of atmospheric composition, directly including air quality, improves the ability to forecast air quality, and creates a dataset for examining the societal impacts of air quality.
  2. TEMPO measurements address climate forcing by measuring pollution pathways, particularly the details of tropospheric ozone and aerosol production, transport, and relation to sources.

TEMPO's six science questions are drawn in large part from the atmospheric chemistry work done by the GEO-CAPE Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Working Groups. TEMPO Science Team Members have many years of experience with requirements developed by the air quality community, using observations of pollution from LEO polar orbiting satellites. TEMPO's advanced capabilities over heritage instruments are designed to answer the following science questions:

Visualization of Nitrogen Dioxide from Aura/OMI, 2014.

Visualization of Nitrogen Dioxide from Aura/OMI, 2014

© NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

  1. What are the temporal and spatial variations of emissions of gases and aerosols important for air quality and climate?
  2. How do physical, chemical, and dynamical processes determine tropospheric composition and air quality over spatial scales ranging from urban to continental, and temporally from diurnal to seasonal?
  3. How does air pollution drive climate forcing, and how does climate change affect air quality on a continental scale?
  4. How can observations from space improve air quality forecasts and assessments for societal benefit?
  5. How does intercontinental pollution transport affect air quality?
  6. How do episodic events (e.g., wild fires, dust outbreaks, and volcanic eruptions) affect atmospheric composition and air quality?

Each of these questions has been explored to date from polar orbit using data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) aboard NASA's Aura satellite, from SCIAMACHY on the Envisat satellite of the European Space Agency, and from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) instruments flown on EUMETSAT missions. TEMPO will measure many of the same atmospheric constituents, but its geostationary orbit will enable groundbreaking spatial and temporal resolutions.