Thursday, February 29, 2024

NASA joins forces with DENR to study Metro Manila’s air quality

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will send a team of engineers and air specialists to join scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in a mission to study Metro Manila’s air quality.

The DENR said its team — composed of engineers and air specialists — will board research flights with NASA scientists to conduct the study slated from Feb. 11 to Feb. 15.

DENR secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga said this assignment aims “to build technical capacity and expertise” for the DENR.

The official said the collaboration with NASA is a first for the Philippines and “will help improve air quality models, provide accurate forecasts, and develop effective policies to ensure better air quality in the future.”

NASA will be conducting scientific research flights that are specifically designed to study the atmosphere of Metro Manila and its surrounding regions.

The DENR said its engineers and air quality specialists boarding the flights are expected to learn a lot from the NASA team. The mission is to study the atmosphere in Metro Manila and its surrounding regions from space to the surface of the Earth.

Within the week, the DENR team will go on four research flights aboard two aircraft, the NASA G-III and NASA DC-8.

NASA officials take DENR secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga on a tour inside the aircraft that will conduct the air quality test in Metro Manila. (Photo from DENR)

The mission is part of the Airborne and Satellite Investigation of Asian Air Quality (ASIA-AQ), a partnership that brings together experts from NASA and DENR, in collaboration with the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), Manila Observatory, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of the Philippines.

The DENR said leading the team is 29-year-old ambient air quality monitoring specialist Chadbert Nikko Aquino, who will be joined by fellow engineers and air specialists Paul Vallar, Brix Faustino, Billy William Franco, and Zeus Aragones.

NASA’s Tropospheric Composition Program Scientist Dr. Barry Lefer will be at the helm. He is supported by Dr. James Crawford (ASIA-AQ Lead Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center) and Dr. Louisa Emmons (ASIA-AQ Forecasting Team Lead at the National Center for Atmospheric Research).


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