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Using satellite remote sensing to monitor rocket launch induced pollution

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With the expected increase in the number of rocket launches, it is becoming necessary to monitor the pollution associated with their exhaust plumes. In this article, we attempt to use satellite remote-sensing data sets to detect rocket plumes. Specifically, we check to determine whether a plume that is seen in satellite true colour imagery is captured by the aerosol optical thickness spatial distribution. This leads to better assessment of rocket exhaust properties. Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data sets are used to observe the rocket plumes. We select case studies with various booster combinations (liquid propellant only or a combination of liquid and solid propellants). We also discuss the difficulties in identifying rocket plumes from remote-sensing data sets. However, our results from this work demonstrate a unique capability in monitoring human-made pollution and the extent the pollution can spread to surrounding areas.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville,AL,35805, USA 2: Department of Atmospheric Science,University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville,AL,35805, USA

Publication date: January 10, 2013

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