How NASA NACHOS May Predict Volcano Eruptions

NASA is launching a prototype instrument called the “Nanosat Atmospheric Chemistry Hyperspectral Observation System,” or NACHOS, that will make it easier to monitor air quality and volcanic activity.

What to know:

  • NASA’s new prototype instrument called “Nanosat Atmospheric Chemistry Hyperspectral Observation System,” or NACHOS, will use a compact hyperspectral imager to locate sources of trace gases in some areas around the earth.

  • It could detect any sulfur dioxide (SO2) emitted from a dormant volcano as it’s just waking up, even before there is any detectable seismic activity, giving scientists a chance to identify potential eruptions.

  • NACHOS will be the smallest, highest resolution space-based instrument dedicated to monitoring atmospheric trace gases like SO2 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

  • It should not only predict volcanic eruptions, but also monitor air quality around specific cities, neighborhoods, and even individual power plants.

  • The NACHOS will launch aboard a nanosatellite research spacecraft called a CubeSat and orbit about 300 miles above the earth’s surface.

This is a summary of the article “High-flying NASA ‘NACHOS’ instrument may help predict volcanic eruptions,” according to an announcement published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on February 22. The full article can be found on

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