Tempest rocket to map quality of the air we breathe

In what is thought to be a world’s first, a rocket equipped with air pollution monitoring equipment developed by University scientists from the Department of Physics and Astronomy led by Dr Roland Leigh (pictured) is due to be launched on Wednesday 4 February 2015 at 10:30am from Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire, in front of an audience of hundreds of pupils and teachers from more than 30 schools.

As part of a wider air pollution mapping project supported by aerial survey company Bluesky, the pollution monitoring system aims to record how dangerous gases, such as nitrogen dioxide, dissipate with vertical distance from the earth. 

The micro sensors will be integrated with other technologies and launched into the atmosphere using Starchaser Industries’ Tempest Research Rocket. The launch follows previous work mapping air pollution across entire cities from planes, cars and ground sensors.

The Tempest is a 4.1 metre (14 foot) tall rocket that can reach speeds of up to 200 mph and will hit an altitude of  3,000 feet on this flight before being safely recovered via parachute.

In addition to the air pollution monitoring sensors Tempest will also be carrying vital electronic systems that will be used aboard Starchaser’s future Space Tourism Rockets, an experimental GPS package and video cameras.