New American Chemical Society video: Keeping tabs on global air pollution from space

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2013 — What flies around the world 14 times a day and can detect global air pollution levels from space? It’s the Aura satellite, the star of the latest ChemMatters video from the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. The video is available at

In the video, NASA Senior Scientist P.K. Bhartia describes the range of instruments onboard Aura that allow it to measure air quality across the entire planet in just 24 hours. Bhartia also explains the often-overlooked role of ozone as a greenhouse gas. Best-known as the gas that protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, ozone high in the atmosphere also traps heat in the atmosphere in the same fashion as carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that ingredients in aerosol sprays and other products were depleting the ozone layer, leading to formation of an ozone hole over Antarctica. The video explains how this discovery led to a landmark international ban on ozone-depleting ingredients. Today, Aura’s constant vigil provides essential data on the size of Earth’s now-shrinking ozone hole, which is predicted to disappear after 2050.

Produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs, the video is based on an article on the same topic in the latest issue of ChemMatters. ACS’ quarterly magazine for high school students. ChemMatters has been connecting chemistry to our everyday lives for the past 30 years. Published quarterly by the ACS Office of High School Chemistry, each issue contains articles about the chemistry of everyday life and is of interest to high school students and their teachers.

For additional entertaining video podcasts from ACS, go to The Bytesize Science series is produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs.

Other science videos and podcasts from the ACS Office of Public Affairs include Prized Science, Spellbound, Science Elements and Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.

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