NASA Measuring Air Pollution -- From the Air

If you see some fairly large airplanes buzzing the Bay Area Thursday and Friday, don’t run for cover - it’s probably just NASA measuring air pollution.

The planes are flying at various altitudes, some as low as a thousand feet, measuring things like particulate matter, hydrocarbons and nitrous oxide. NASA is collaborating with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on the study. Aaron Richardson from the Air District says this goes beyond what they're able to collect on their own.

"We have a set of monitoring stations at ground level that we've used for years to sort of keep track of pollution," Richardson said. "But we've never had a really good sort of three-dimensional picture of what air pollution is doing at various levels of the atmosphere over the Bay Area."

The new data will help scientists understand how pollution moves around the Bay Area, find any gaps in the existing monitoring network and help NASA develop an air pollution monitoring satellite.