DISCOVER-AQ Mission Documentary

Jane Peterson/NSERC

DISCOVER-AQ is a multi-year air quality research campaign that stands for Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality.

Two NASA research aircraft, the P-3B and UC-12, flew a series of profiles over six selected ground stations that monitor urban air quality in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. 

Researchers chose the month of July to conduct the first DISCOVER-AQ mission, because that is when pollution peaks in the Baltimore-Washington area.

The data collected from the aircraft and ground sites will be used to assess how satellites interpret air quality near Earth’s surface. Satellites have difficulty distinguishing between pollution that is high in the atmosphere and pollution at Earth’s surface.

Future missions are planned in Houston, Sacramento, and the southeastern U.S. to compare the regional influences that drive air quality.