DISCOVER-AQ mission to begin this summer in conjunction with BCCSO

Discover AQ Mission Summary
June 23, 2011

The overarching objective of the DISCOVER-AQ investigation is to improve the interpretation of satellite observations to diagnose near-surface conditions relating to air quality. To diagnose air quality conditions from space, reliable satellite information on aerosols and ozone precursors is needed for specific, highly correlated times and locations to be used in air quality models and compared to surface- and aircraft-based measurements. DISCOVER-AQ will provide an integrated dataset of airborne and surface observations relevant to the diagnosis of surface air quality conditions from space. 


The Howard University Beltsville Center, lead by Principal Investigator Dr. Everette Joseph, is partnering with NASA Langley Research Center and NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) to conduct a series of experiments to study urban air pollution over the Baltimore-Washington traffic corridor. A fundamental challenge for Earth-observing satellites measuring air quality is to distinguish between pollution high in the atmosphere and that near the surface, where people live and breathe. In the summer of 2011, NASA starts a multi-year airborne field campaign to tackle this challenge. DISCOVER-AQ, which stands for Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality, is one of NASA's new Earth Venture class of missions. These small, targeted science investigations complement NASA's larger research missions. NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is the lead center for the DISCOVER-AQ mission. This year the program is in its developmental stages but has created a timeline for the next five years.  This plan includes observing air quality in several cities that have exceeding quality standards such as Baltimore – DC area, Atlanta, Houston and Sacramento. This timeline, however, is extremely flexible and can be changed if necessary.

DISCOVER – AQ is attempting to address one of the most challenging problems facing the Earth at this moment.   DISCOVER – AQ has the ability to collect data that has interdisciplinary value.  The technology can be used to locate and assist in the cleanup of oil spills.  It can also be used to assist in the study of marine life and pollution.  DISCOVER – AQ provides benefits to other air quality observation models, to the observation of other trace elements and to the observation models of the future.  DISCOVER – AQ will study planet Earth from space to advance scientific understanding and meet societal needs by using columns and vertically resolve distributions in order to provide systematic observation for trace elements in the air, such as O3, NO2, and CH20.  It also has predictive capability for changes in the ozone layer, climate forcing, and air quality associated with changes in atmospheric composition. 

For more info on DISCOVER_AQ, visit:

discoveraq, nasa, bccso, field experiments
Related Documents: 
Discover-AQ Presentation