Measuring the Air Quality at NASA Langley

September 21st, 2012 at 5:11 pm by under Weather

Recently, I got a chance to tour the NASA Langley Center in Hampton, VA and talk with a few scientists about their research. One thing I didn’t know that there were doing there was taking daily measurements of the air quality. This is one of a few sites across Hampton Roads where Air Quality is measured.


There is an Instrument called PANDORA which can measure different levels of substances in the lower levels of the atmosphere. Basically how it works is that it points at the sun and is able to detect things like how much moisture is actually in the atmosphere. Think of this value of in you were to take a column of air and take all of the water out of it, how much would you have. Knowing this value helps us forecast during rain and especially severe weather events.


Here is the measurement from yesterday:

H20 In the Atmosphere from Thursday the 20th

Values remained less than 2cm since we still have this area of high pressure in control which is going to keep dry air around until tomorrow. During Thunderstorms this amount can easily exceed 4-6cm.

This research being done here is also part of NASA’s goal to better understand the Air Quality and composition of our atmosphere. The Discover-AQ program had a campaign last year which helped to take various measurements from around our area. You can find the information about that program here.

A Quick Reminder, tomorrow (Saturday the 22nd) NASA is having an Open House Tour from 10am to 4pm. It should be a nice, but warm day out there. More information can be found on NASA’s website.

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