The new tool, which is a hyperspectral imager, will monitor air quality and deliver data regarding the effects of air pollutants on Earth for the US NOAA’s Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) satellite programme

BAE Systems NASA

NASA taps BAE Systems to build an atmospheric composition instrument for NOAA. (Credit: NOAA)

NASA has awarded a cost-plus-award-fee contract worth about $365m to BAE Systems to develop an atmospheric composition instrument (ACX) for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Under the contract, the UK-based defence and aerospace firm will develop one flight instrument. The contract also includes options for additional units.

BAE Systems’ expected contract duration involves support for 10 years of on-orbit operations and five years of on-orbit storage, summing up to a total of 15 years for each flight model.

Besides, the scope of the contract encompasses the responsibilities and outcomes required for designing, analysing, developing, fabricating, integrating, testing, verifying, assessing, supporting launch, supplying, and maintaining the instrument ground support equipment.

It also includes supporting mission operations at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland.

The new tool will monitor air quality and deliver data regarding the effects of air pollutants on Earth for the NOAA’s Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) satellite programme.

It is a hyperspectral imager that will capture hourly air quality measurements across a spectrum of ultraviolet (UV) to visible (VIS) light, said BAE Systems.

Through continuous observations and measurements of atmospheric composition, ACX data will enhance air quality forecasting and monitoring, reducing health impacts from severe pollution and smoke events.

ACX data will also assist scientists in comprehending the connections between weather, air quality, and climate.

BAE Systems space and mission systems civil space vice president and general manager Alberto Conti said: “The ACX instrument will deliver robust, practical benefits for the science and operational user communities, as well as the public at large.

“Not only will this instrument provide cutting-edge measurements of air quality, but it will also improve weather forecasts, help pilots avoid dangerous situations, warn hospitals of imminent air quality issues, and protect the lasting health and economic stability of our communities.”

The GeoXO programme expands on Earth observations made by its predecessor and the NOAA’s current Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites-R series (GOES-R) programme.

NOAA and NASA are seeking to bring the critical observations in place by the early 2030s as the operational lifetime of the GOES-R Series approaches its conclusion.