NASA has lent its support to new projects to determine what, if any, natural environmental phenomena might impact the spread of COVID-19.
The projects will also examine how the shutdowns in response to the pandemic are changing the environment, especially the atmosphere, the US space agency said on Wednesday.
In addition, scientists are using information from NASA's Earth-observing satellites, on-the-ground sensors and computer-based datasets to study the environmental and economic and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"NASA has a unique role to play in response to this crisis," said John Haynes, NASA's program manager for Health and Air Quality Applications.
"As we continue to collect Earth-observing satellite data on a global scale, we can aid in the understanding of global changes resulting from the pandemic, as well as investigate potential environmental signals that may influence the spread of COVID-19," Haynes said.
NASA recently funded two new rapid-turnaround projects focused on COVID-19 -- one is examining the pandemic's impact on air quality related to reduced airport traffic and the other is focused on creating maps and images that show how COVID-19 has reduced air pollution across the world.
"The world's response to the pandemic is an unintended experiment that is giving us a chance to test our understanding of various air pollution emission sources," said Barry Lefer, NASA's program scientist for tropospheric composition.