iSPEX is an innovative way to measure tiny particles in the atmosphere, or atmospheric aerosols, that contribute to air pollution and its impacts on our health and environment in an as-yet poorly understood way. They add to heart and respiratory disease, in the shape of volcanic ash they are of danger to air traffic, and they form one of the largest uncertainties in our current estimates of climate change.
Our idea is simple. Click an add-on onto your iPhone to turn it into a scientific instrument, an optical sensor that is suited for the measurement of the macro- and microphysical properties of atmospheric aerosols.
iSPEX is developed building upon the measurement principles of its big brother, Spectropolarimeter for Planetary EXploration (SPEX), a highly sophisticated instrument built for the observation of other planets and their atmospheres. In comparison to SPEX, of which there exist only a few in the world, iSPEX is simple and designed to be available and used by thousands of people, and it is primarily meant for the measurement of aerosols in our Earth atmosphere.
iSPEX allows for, in principle, anyone that is suited with the appropriate smartphone to be able to measure atmospheric aerosols at any location around the world at any daytime hour. As such, iSPEX can yield more information on atmospheric aerosols than is currently available. These features are just that what makes iSPEX not only a fun way for anyone to learn on the science of atmospheric aerosols and their impacts on our daily lives but also make a valuable contribution to on-going research on it at the same time. This we call citizen science!
After an initial citizen campaign in the Netherlands in 2013, with thousands of participants and promising scientific results (read all about it here), we are now crossing borders and organising a first Europe-wide campaign: iSPEX-EU. This campaign will run in over 10 major cities in Europe from 1 September – 15 October 2015. In all of these cities we are looking for citizen participants.
Will you join us? We hope you do!