"NASA, the agency best known for exploring space, is trying to answer some urgent questions about air pollution right here on Earth.
For much of July, the agency flew research planes between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore as part of a mission known as DISCOVER-AQ. The planes, along with weather balloons and ground stations, were gathering data on how pollutants such as ozone and particulates behave in the atmosphere.
The short-term goal is to learn more about where these pollutants form, how far they travel after forming, and how they are distributed at different elevations in the atmosphere.
The long-term goal is to make it possible to use satellites to provide hour-by-hour monitoring of pollution levels across the country. That would help the Environmental Protection Agency and other parts of government enforce air quality standards."