HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Hattiesburg neighbors can check the city’s air quality with a new sensor that was installed at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).

USM is one of three sites in the Mississippi with a PurpleAir sensor. The sensor is part of an air quality initiative with NASA.

Dr. Sherry S. Herron, Associate Professor Emerita of Science Education at USM, collaborated with University of Toledo Professor Kevin Czajkowski to get the sensor installed on the Hattiesburg campus. Herron’s assistance was sought through her work as USM’s GLOBE partner, a position she has held since 2005. GLOBE.gov is the citizen-science and K-16 outreach for NASA.

“With the launch of the NASA TEMPO satellite on air quality scheduled for December 2022, we are trying to engage more professors, K-12 teachers and students, and other citizen scientists across the United States in the project,” said Herron. “When Dr. Czajkowski noticed that few air quality sensors were in operation in Mississippi, he reached out to me. The world can now see and use real-time data from Hattiesburg, and we can receive presentations from NASA scientists.”

The sensor uses laser counters to measure particulate matter in real time. A laser counter uses a fan to draw a sample of air past a laser beam. Any particles in the air will reflect some light onto a detection plate.

Click here to access the sensor.