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Air quality: what’s space got to do with it?

05 April 2019

Air pollution is a global environmental health problem that is responsible for millions of people dying prematurely every year. In cities and towns, traffic pumps pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide directly into the air we breathe, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, for example. Governments and decision-makers rely heavily on satellite data, such as that from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission, and computer models to show how pollution accumulates and how it is carried in the air so that they can develop appropriate mitigation strategies.

The United Nations World Health Organization marks World Health Day on 7 April every year. The third Sustainable Development Goal underlines the right to health: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. On-orbit research, space technology and space applications can help improve health on Earth by monitoring our environment, helping track disease, improving diagnostics, and working on new medicines among other things. The UN is also focusing particularly this year on universal health coverage.

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