Volunteers in Fort Collins, Colorado are participating in a citizen science project on air quality, according to a post on Colorado State University’s site. The project is led by a team at CSU and is called CEAMS: Citizen-Enabled Aerosol Measurements for Satellites. Although the title mentions satellites, the measurements are actually being taken from Earth, as the goal of the project is to gather ground-based measurements. The project is partially funded by NASA and the data may be used to help improve the air quality data coming from satellites. John Volckens, CEAMS leader, explains.
“If we want to develop better algorithms to make the air-quality maps from satellite images more representative, we need more data on the ground,” Volckens said. “This project is designed to develop those datasets.
Given the number of mechanical engineers on this project, it looks like the air quality monitors may have been designed in-house. The sensors are gathering AOD (aerosol optical depth) as well as PM 2.5 (particulate matter). Instructions include setting the device on a tripod in full sunlight, as a solar panel keeps things powered. Participants check the monitors every two days for about two weeks, uploading their data using a mobile app. If all goes well in this phase, the project may be eligible for funding that would extend it to other cities. This is an exciting initiative pairing citizen science with NASA—go team CEAMS! For those of you who have an interest in air quality, you should check out our learning guide on the CCS811 Sensor. Pair it with an Arduino and check out the level of total VOCs in your home.