The assumption that Asia’s air is getting increasingly polluted has yet again been confirmed after a joint ISRO-NASA study has detected the presence of aerosol in the atmosphere above Asia. The finding would have implications for polluting countries in Asia such as China and India. The joint study was conducted after aerosol presence was suspected based on satellite images. The joint study has also found nitrate in Asia’s air. Aerosols are produced due to both natural and man-made processes. These include sources such as vehicle exhaust, waste-burning, windblown dust, volcanic eruptions, etc. These can cause a wide variety of health issues such as asthma, respiratory tract irritation, etc.
To deal with aerosol, it is important to first detect it. Current methods are quite costly, which is why NASA is looking for an affordable way to detect aerosol. It has announced a grand prize of $100,000 that will be given to anyone who can design a low cost and lightweight aerosol sensor. Such a sensor should be able to monitor air quality on Earth as well as in space environments. Paul Mudgett, from NASA’s Biomedical Research and Environment Sciences Division said that the low-cost and lightweight aerosol sensor is urgently needed to bridge the technology gap. He said that the current instrument technology is too large. Both individuals and teams can participate in the contest.