Cosmic information

News from the space and satellite industry

Cosmos NASA

A joint mission of NASA and the Italian Space Agency related to air pollution

Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) is a joint mission of NASA and the Italian Space Agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI). The mission will study how airborne particulate pollution affects human health. MAIA marks the first time that epidemiologists and public health professionals have been involved in the development of NASA's satellite mission to improve public health.

Before the end of 2024, the MAIA observatory will be launched. The composition consists of a scientific instrument developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and an ASI satellite called PLATiNO-2. Data gathered from ground sensors, the observatory and atmospheric models will be analyzed by the mission. The results will be compared with data on births, hospitalizations and deaths among people. This will shed light on the potential health effects of solid and liquid pollutants in the air we breathe.

Aerosols, which are airborne particles, have been linked to several health problems. This includes lung cancer and respiratory diseases such as heart attacks, asthma and strokes. In addition, there are reproductive and perinatal adverse effects, in particular preterm delivery as well as low birth weight infants. According to David Diner, who works as principal investigator at the MAIA, the toxicity of the various mixtures of particles has not been well understood. Therefore, this mission will help us understand how airborne particulate pollution poses a threat to our health.

The pointed spectropolarimetric camera is the observatory's scientific tool. The electromagnetic spectrum allows you to take digital photos from different angles. This includes the near-infrared, visible, ultraviolet, and shortwave infrared regions. By studying the patterns and prevalence of health problems related to poor air quality, the MAIA science team will gain a better understanding. This will be done using these data to analyze the size and geographic distribution of airborne particles. In addition, they will analyze the composition and abundance of airborne particles.

In the long history of collaboration between NASA and ASI, MAIA represents the pinnacle of what NASA and the ASI organizations have to offer. This includes understanding, proficiency and earth observation technology. Francesco Longo, head of ASI's Earth Observation and Operations Division, stressed that the science of this combined mission will help people for a long time.

The agreement, which was signed in January 2023, continued the long-standing partnership between ASI and NASA. This includes the launch of the Cassini mission to Saturn in 1997. ASI's lightweight Italian CubeSat for Imaging Asteroids (LICIACube) was a key component of NASA's 2022 DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission. It was carried as extra cargo aboard the Orion spacecraft during the Artemis I mission.