TEMPO stands for Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution. It is a collaborative mission between NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory that will monitor and track air pollution across North America on an hourly basis.

The TEMPO instrument is a spectrometer, a tool used to determine information about an object through analysis of the object’s light properties. TEMPO is sensitive to visible and ultraviolet wavelengths of light. By measuring sunlight that is reflected from Earth's surface and atmosphere back to the instrument's detectors, TEMPO's sensors will allow for analysis of ozone, nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants.

TEMPO will be hosted on a Maxar 1300-class commercial geostationary satellite and positioned in an orbital slot with a constant view of North America. Because of its vantage point 22,236 miles above Earth, TEMPO will be able to make complete, hourly east-to-west scans of the North American continent. This will be the first space-based instrument to provide hourly monitoring of major air pollutants during the daytime across the continent at high spatial resolution.

Data from TEMPO will be used to enhance air quality forecasts in North America, enabling more effective early public warning of pollution incidents. It will also be used observe the atmospheric transport of air pollutants. Production of the TEMPO payload was completed and successfully qualified for launch in December 2018.

Maxar was chosen in July 2019 to integrate TEMPO onto a commercial GEO satellite with the planned launch of the instrument in 2022. Maxar will take on the responsibility of identifying the satellite program to host TEMPO.

The TEMPO program fits well with Maxar’s experience in offering hosted payloads. By offering hosted payloads, Maxar can help government agencies obtain access to space for instruments, sensors and other small missions on commercial spacecraft. Similarly, the hosted payload helps the commercial customer share the cost of the satellite bus, launch and operations. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Maxar is proud to play a key role in bringing this innovative science mission to reality and to lend its industry-leading expertise to support NASA science objectives.

For more information about the TEMPO program, visit

Prev Post Back to Blog Next Post