Air Pollution Monitoring Rocket Set for Second Launch Attempt

March 2, 2015  - By

air_pollution_rocket_blueskyScientists at the University of Leicester will make a second attempt to launch a rocket equipped with air pollution monitoring equipment on June 11 at the university’s Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire. The first launch attempt on Feb. 4 failed, according to

As part of a wider air pollution mapping project supported by Bluesky, an aerial survey company, a pollution monitoring system was developed by scientists at the University of Leicester to record how dangerous gases such as nitrogen dioxide dissipate with vertical distance from the earth. The micro sensors will be integrated with other technologies and launched into the atmosphere using Starchaser Industries‘ Tempest Research Rocket. The launch follows previous work mapping air pollution across entire cities from planes, cars and ground sensors.

“We have already had great success mapping air pollution from an aerial survey plane giving us a better understanding of how dangerous gases, such as nitrogen dioxide, operate in the vertical plane,” says James Eddy, Bluesky’s technical director and industrial associate at the University of Leicester. “However, we hope this launch will take air pollution monitoring to another level.”

The Tempest is a 14-foot-tall rocket that can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and will hit an altitude of 3,000 feet on its flight before being safely recovered via parachute. In addition to the air pollution monitoring sensors, Tempest will also be carrying vital electronic systems that will be used aboard Starchaser’s future Space Tourism Rockets, an experimental GPS package with video cameras.

“Air Quality continues to be a critical issue in our urbanising society, requiring us to explore novel solutions for monitoring, management and damage mitigation. We are grateful to Starchaser Industries for the opportunity to test our novel air quality monitoring techniques as part of this spectacular launch event,” says Dr. Roland Leigh, academic supervisor at the University of Leicester. “This project builds on work to date of Starchaser Industries, key academic expertise in instrument design and data manipulation, and once again benefits from a strong industrial partnership with Bluesky.”

The latest phase of the Bluesky supported air pollution monitoring project will add to results already obtained from trials of the University of Leicester’s Compact Air Quality Spectrometer. Originally mounted on a dedicated aerial survey aircraft, the device monitors visible light and measures how much light is lost at specific wavelengths absorbed by nitrogen dioxide. The technology has previously been used as part the CityScan project with devices mounted on tall buildings in Leicester, Bologna and London during the Olympics to build 3D maps of pollution across the cities, according to the company.

This article is tagged with and posted in GIS News, Mapping

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.