NASA Satellite Technology to Monitor Motor Vehicle Pollution

American cities and states may soon have a new high-tech tool in the battle against air pollution caused by cars, thanks to NASA satellite technology originally developed to track global greenhouse gases and the earth’s protective ozone layer.

As envisioned, NASA’s atmospheric remote sensing technology will be adapted to an autonomous roadside system to monitor motor vehicle emissions. Cars and trucks will be monitored as they pass through a low-power light beam, without having to stop or slow down. Space-age sensor technology will instantly analyse vehicle exhaust pollutants to see if they fit federally mandated air quality standards, as defined by the U.S. Clean Air Act

In a process called ‘clean screening,’ drivers who formerly took their vehicles in for an annual emissions inspection would receive a notice in the mail certifying that their vehicle has passed twice in a 12-month period and that they do not have to submit to an emissions test.

As individual roadside exhaust measurements are taken, the vehicle’s license plate would be photographed and the data would be transmitted to a central collecting point.

Drivers whose vehicles failed or gave marginal readings would be identified for additional testing and possible emissions-related repairs.

NASA Langley and SPX Service Solutions announced that the patented NASA technology has been exclusively licensed to SPX for use in developing the new remote sensing device to monitor motor vehicle exhaust.