The site of 2016 Summer Olympic Games viewed by NASA’s MISR instrument.
The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite passed directly over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 2, 2016, just prior to the opening of the Summer Olympic Games.
The black asterisk (left) marks the location of the Maracanã Stadium in downtown, where the opening ceremonies were held.
On the left is an image from MISR’s nadir (downward-looking) camera; the width of the image is 235 miles (378 kilometers), and Rio de Janeiro is visible as the large gray area on the coast in the center.
In the weeks leading up to the Aug. 5 opening ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro, there have been reports of elevated levels of particulate matter in the region. Particulate matter refers to tiny airborne droplets or pieces of soot and dust that can end up in the lungs, comprising an all-too-common problem for many cities around the world.
MISR data are routinely used to estimate the amount of air pollution via measurements of aerosol optical depth, which is a measure of how much incoming light from the sun is blocked by particles in the atmosphere. On the right, a map of aerosol optical depth is superimposed on the image. Individual squares making up this map measure 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) on a side, and holes in the map occur where an aerosol amount could not be determined, such as where clouds are present. Optical depth over Rio is slightly elevated compared to its surroundings, most likely due to the presence of air pollution, with values from 0.15-0.25. For reference, an optical depth of 0.2 corresponds to light haze.