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Mobile Laboratories Measure Air Quality in Houston
September 25, 2013

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Shown here are the three of the five mobile measurement labs from the Texas 2013 campaign of the DISCOVER-AQ mission. DISCOVER-AQ, or Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality, is a five-year NASA science study involving two aircraft, ground sites and mobile labs. The mobile labs provide critical ground truth to complement the mission's other measurements. 

From left to right are Bruce Anderson from NASA Langley, lead for the Mobile Aerosol Characterization (MACH-2) laboratory, which is the vehicle at the far left, and Matt Brown from Clarkson University; John Johansson and Pontus Andersson from Chalmers University in Sweden with their mobile lab in the center; and Tara Yacovitch, Berk Knighton, Ed Fortner, and Xavier Cabral from Aerodyne Research with the Aerodyne Mobile Lab on the far right. Not pictured are the mobile labs from University of Houston and Princeton University. 

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One of the big challenges for instruments monitoring air quality from space is to distinguish between pollution high in the atmosphere and pollution near the surface where people live. The DISCOVER-AQ mission is working to help scientists better understand how to "see" ground-level pollution from space in the future by making measurements from aircraft and from ground-based monitoring sites.

Sampling for DISCOVER-AQ Texas 2013 focuses on the Houston metropolitan area ranging from Conroe in the north to Galveston in the south. The flight path is designed to pass over and complement the air quality information gathered at ground measurement sites operated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the City of Houston, as well as temporary sites headed up by DISCOVER-AQ researchers. These mobile labs provide additional coverage between the ground sites to give a more thorough understanding of the air quality conditions in the entire campaign region. 

Below are photos of the two additional mobile labs. 

 

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Members of the DISCOVER-AQ Texas 2013 mobile lab teams pose in front of their mobile labs in Houston.
Members of three of the DISCOVER-AQ Texas 2013 mobile lab teams pose in front of their mobile labs in Houston.
Image Credit: 
Berk Knighton/Aerodyne
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Princeton University Mobile Lab
The Princeton University mobile lab is small enough to fit on top of a car and is referred to as PAC-MAN, or Princeton Atmospheric Chemistry Mobile Acquisition Node.
Image Credit: 
James Blair/NASA
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The University of Houston Mobile Lab
In addition to hosting a ground site during the DISCOVER-AQ Texas 2013 campaign, the University of Houston team is managing a mobile laboratory.
Image Credit: 
James Blair/NASA
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Aerodyne Mobile Lab researchers, Paola Massoli and Berk Knighton work inside the mobile lab during DISCOVER-AQ
Aerodyne Mobile Lab researchers, Paola Massoli and Berk Knighton (from Montana State University), work inside the mobile lab during DISCOVER-AQ to measure photochemical reaction products including ozone, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde.
Image Credit: 
James Blair/NASA
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Page Last Updated: September 25th, 2013
Page Editor: Katie Bethea